The ability to visualize data is extremely important for journalists nowadays as more and more stories rely on data, and breaking down that data visually is essential in order to make it more accessible for readers. Before introducing Flourish, Mary Nahorniak mentioned another tool that might be useful if you want to create quick and simple data visualizations – Google’s Data GIF Maker. This is one of the easiest tools to use, has three ready-to-use GIF templates, and only requires you to enter your data to generate the visualization.
The only drawback is that Data GIF Maker does not allow for almost any customizations such as changing the color scheme or font, but that is why we have Flourish.
What is Flourish?
Flourish is a tool available to journalists at no cost that allows you to upload your data and create a variety of different data visualizations, ranging from simple bar graphs and charts to interactive story maps. Compared to Data GIF Maker, Flourish is way more powerful as it allows for customization and the complex handling of data and the way it appears on a graph or map. Some of the visualizations available on Flourish include but are not limited to:
- Line, bar, and pie charts
- Projection maps
- Scatter plots
- 3D maps
- Line chart races
- Photo sliders
- Parliament charts
How to get started?
- Go to: https://flourish.studio/newsrooms/
When you sign up for Flourish, you’ll gain access to the free, default version of the tool that doesn’t have some of the features the premium version has, such as custom templates, shared projects and more.
- In order to use the premium version (for free), you’ll need to click on “Apply for newsroom access” and fill out a survey with some questions about your publication and your role in it. When approved, you’ll gain free and unlimited access to the tool!
- Choose the option that fits you best, and you can get started with Flourish in no time! The first thing you’ll see once you’ve signed in is the “My Projects” space, where your visualizations will appear once you have created them (shown below).
How to create a visualization?
- In the “My Projects” space, click on “Create new visualization.”
- Choose the visualization template that you want and think would work best for your data. Feel free to explore different ones before you find the best fit, and read the descriptions under each category to see what purpose the visualizations may serve.
- Once you open any particular template, you’ll see three elements: the “Preview” tab, the “Data” tab, and the space where all the customizations can be made which is found on the right hand side of the screen. The “Preview” area shows how the visualization will appear with the current settings and data. The “Data” area is where you can upload your own data and make modifications to it. Each visualization comes with dummy data so that you can immediately see what the result will look like.
- Make sure to also give a name to your visualization in the upper left corner.
- Once you’re done customizing, export it by clicking on the “Export & publish” button in the upper right corner. You have several options for how to do this: you can publish the visualization to share and embed, or you can download it as an html file or as an image.
- Flourish also offers the option to create a story, which is an animated presentation of one or more of your visualizations!
- If you need additional information, each visualization has its own FAQ.“
How to upload data into Flourish?
- Choose a visualization template and click on it in order to begin customizing.
- Click on the “Data” tab. This will show you the dummy data that’s already been inserted into Flourish to generate a visualization. You can go ahead and select and delete the dummy data values.
- Look at the right hand side of the screen and click on “Upload data.” This will allow you to upload a file from your computer that contains your data. The supported file formats are Excel, CSV, TSV, JSON, and GeoJSON.
- Once you have uploaded your data, you can select which columns to visualize, adjust the labels, values, colors, and even filter your data.
If you need extra help with Flourish, visit the following page:
You can also consult Mary Nahorniak’s cheat sheet with resources and information about both Flourish and Pinpoint: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nxhVA-4hLAYQizeLmFzdpPq2Awna-fv4omiKc-doZZg/edit