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Visualizations are charts and graphs displaying performance metrics in a way that is understandable and easy to digest. They have the ability to tell a story through images by guiding users toward a conclusion about their data and empowering them to make informed decisions.

How does storytelling work through visualizations? Let’s start with our brains. How the brain best learns and retains information is reliant on understanding how it processes the information coming in. As we see information, it forms a visual pattern so that we quickly draw attention to key observations. So ideally, it makes sense that users can grasp the meaning of data when it is displayed in visual form, rather than spreadsheets or numbers scattered on a document.

Visualizations come in two forms: static and animated. Static visualizations provide users with basically everything you want them to see without requiring them to take any action. Usually, static visualizations display information that isn’t going to change.

Animated visualizations provide users with an option to drill-down deeper into the information being presented, often requiring them to take some sort of action to make it happen. Typically animated visuals leverage flash technology or HTML5 to render the data, while static visuals render the data as an image so they don’t require any special browser add-ons to be viewed.