Data Visualization Toolkit: Qualitative Data Design Principles

Qualitative Data Design Principles tile

Qualitative methods allow for collecting and analyzing information that cannot be easily understood through numbers. Qualitative data can include open-ended survey responses, interview and focus group transcripts, observation notes, secondary data from organizations (e.g., reports, strategic plans, and policy documents), photographs, videos, and virtual communications such as emails and social media posts. Displaying qualitative data can help you explore, understand, and explain the information being presented.

Qualitative Data Design Principles

  • As with all types of effective data visualization, qualitative displays should highlight the main points or themes. Be intentional with titles, labels, and color/boldness to emphasize the key takeaways from the data.
  • While sometimes useful, you don’t need to quantify qualitative data to effectively display it. Given that qualitative data can be a rich source of the “how” and “why”, quantifying it can sometimes mask emotional tone or meaning.
  • Consider general and or visualization-specific accessibility tips and principles.

Published December 2022.