I have a meeting coming up in a few weeks where I’ll be presenting my initial plan for integration of SharePoint into day-to-day operations, and how and why we should use managed metadata. Because of this, I have been working with some very visually unfriendly data in a SharePoint taxonomy format. How am I to convince users that adoption of this platform is going to make communication and collaboration between on- and off-site employees easier, if the information is barely digestible? Graphics of course! I admit that the graphics I’ve been using aren’t the most eye-catching or cutting-edge, but they certainly make it easier to comprehend the data.
So basically it’s:
This is just an example taxonomy, full business taxonomies will have much more data in many more levels, but you can see why something less linear makes this information a little easier to grasp.
All of the visualization tools I tried today were free, so I thought I’d share a few I liked:
MindJet - Free for 1 User and 2GB of storage
This is what I would compare to a really lite version of MS Visio. It would definitely be useful for mind mapping, flow charts, and hierarchical charts. There are three pre-defined structures, multiple shapes and colors, the ability to place callouts and icons, and many customization features for text, lines, and borders. This platform was quite robust, and even allowed for collapsing groups, collaboration, and project management. There is a paid version that allows for more users, greater storage capacity and additional collaboration capabilities.
Bubbl.us – Free
This site was used for the above term-map. There is a lot less flexibility with this service, and basically what you see above is what you get. There is the ability to add more sub-levels, but there is only one pre-defined structure and no alternate shapes, though you can change the bubble colors. I found this useful for showing fairly simple data with few levels, but wouldn’t recommend it for more complicated representations.
SpiderScribe.net - Free
This service was not really at all useful for my data-mapping project, but I thought warranted mentioning, since it was a really interesting concept. This site is more of what I would consider good for life- or schedule-mapping. You can enter notes, pictures, events and maps. I didn’t play around with it much, but I might delve a little more deeply with some meeting or conference planning.
I’m finding infographics and data visualization to be pretty fun, so my next post might be on other free infographic services. Do you have any recommendations?