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Data Visualization: Design: Form

Deciding On Your Visualization

5 Questions to Ask When Deciding Which Type of Data Visualization to Use

1) Do you want to compare values?

Charts are perfect for comparing one or many value sets, and they can easily show the low and high values in the data sets. To create a comparison chart, use these types of graphs:

  • Column
  • Bar
  • Circular Area 
  • Line 
  • Scatter Plot
  • Bullet

2) Do you want to show the composition of something?

Use this type of chart to show how individual parts make up the whole of something, such as the device type used for mobile visitors to your website or total sales broken down by sales rep. 

To show composition, use these charts:

  • Pie
  • Stacked Bar
  • Stacked Column
  • Area
  • Waterfall

3) Do you want to understand the distribution of your data?

Distribution charts help you to understand outliers, the normal tendency, and the range of information in your values.

Use these charts to show distribution:

  • Scatter Plot
  • Line
  • Column
  • Bar

4) Are you interested in analyzing trends in your data set?

If you want to know more information about how a data set performed during a specific time period, there are specific chart types that do extremely well.

You should choose a:

  • Line
  • Dual-Axis Line
  • Column

5) Do you want to better understand the relationship between value sets?

Relationship charts are suited to showing how one variable relates to one or numerous different variables. You could use this to show how something positively effects, has no effect, or negatively effects another variable.

When trying to establish the relationship between things, use these charts:

  • Scatter Plot
  • Bubble
  • Line

Borrowed from Hubspot

Resources

The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot about Data Visualization

"I recently guest lectured a Strategic Communications class, part of the MBA program at Stanford University. Here, I've recorded a 20-minute segment from that lecture, which covers two basic things you should do when communicating with data: 1) be sparing and intentional in your use of color and 2) put your thoughts into words. Check out the video for some quick lessons and examples."  --Cole Nussbaumer