The data visualization design process: A step-by-step guide for beginners

This online guide by Ann K. Emery walks user through the full process of creating a data visualisation, from understanding your audience, through to sharing your dataviz.

This resource and the following information was contributed by Alice Macfarlan.

Authors and their affiliation

Ann K. Emery

Key features

This guide goes through the whole process of creating a data visualization. It incorporates short video tutorials and links to external resources for further guidance on particular steps. It covers:

  • Step 1: Analyze Your Audience
  • Step 2: Choose the Right Chart
  • Step 3: Select a Software Program
  • Step 4: Declutter
  • Step 5: Clarify Your Message with Color
  • Step 6: Clarify Your Message with Text
  • Step 7: Are You Doing It Right?! Test Your Draft
  • Step 8: Share Your Completed Data Visualization

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

I find the upfront framing questions really helpful. This really drills down into specifics of the audience, such as their expectations of a chart, the time they have, the decisions they need to make, and their numeracy level - even how many decimal points they are expecting. I also find the advice on clarifying your message really useful, particularly where it covers usability and accessibility guidelines.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

This would suit people who are new to dataviz as well as people who have been doing it a while. The focus is really on walking readers through the key issues they need to think about, and the attention to upfront framing is something that a lot of other guides might skip over.


Emery, Ann K. (2014). 'The Data Visualization Design Process: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners' in Depict Data Studio [Website]. Retrieved from: