Data Publishing Best Practices for Reporting

More companies are publishing their data to share the information with the general public. However, when you publish data, you don’t just release the data in its raw form of a lengthy Excel sheet. When you report the data, the information has to be easily digestible and reader-friendly for the laymen.

Here are the best ways to publish data for both internal and public release.

  1. Use Keywords

Optimize the data for the search engine if you plan on publishing the material on the Web. This is so regardless of the format, whether that be on a blog post or as a publicly available PDF.

To get Google to index the report, you have to include some written text in order to add in some longtail keyword phrases. Using charts or numbers alone won’t suffice. You also need to add the keywords in the meta tags and descriptions.

Follow the same SEO principles as you would with any other content. Use keywords wherever possible without compromising readability; be mindful of keyword density.

The same optimization practices apply for content containing a link to the report.

  1. Present Data as an Infographic

If you look up statistics on just about any topic, you will likely find an infographic or two. Why are they everywhere? Infographics are effective because they are image-heavy. The brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. 90% of daily information transmitted to the brain is also visual.

Infographics are also a creative way to present some of the many graphs and charts showcasing your data and trends. Some business analytic tools come with built-in infographic makers.

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Use an infographic combined with text. The infographic provides a user-friendly source of information for readers, while the accompanying text provides some additional context and also helps with Web optimization if you add in keywords.

  1. Let Others See Your Dashboard

The dashboard is the main hub and control center for micromanaging incoming data. Most business intelligence software can be personalized to include data visualization using various graphs and charts to highlight the latest data trends. Make the same visuals you see on a daily basis available to the public.

You can take a screenshot of a graph or entire dashboard and embed it in a blog or social media post. You can also show the dashboard as you interact with it on a YouTube video. You can send screenshots to show your followers the progress made regarding a sale, retention, or signup. This can also be sent privately, perhaps as part of a letter to a sponsor when requesting funding.

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For best results, use Jing, a free screenshot, and video software.

  1. Make Charts Easier to Read

Who is the data report intended for? If it’s for your general consumer demographic, then it’s best to keep the charts simple and easy to read. Any charts beyond the basic pie and bar graph aren’t always intuitive. To make a chart easier to read, follow these easy guidelines, which you should be able to customize into any chart-making software:

  • Use color keys to distinguish what each bar represents
  • Avoid overloading a single chart with too many information. Break it up with two or more charts.
  • Avoid gridlines in the background. They just add to the background clutter and don’t actually make graphs easier to read.

Data doesn’t always have to be private information. Sharing them is a great way to show an audience what is taking place within your company or industry as a whole. If you decide to share the information, be sure it’s formatted in a way that is laypeople-friendly.

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