Nowadays, there are so many ways in which data can be visualized to allow you to easily comprehend it and take insights from it. Everyday new visualization platforms, ideas and graphs are appearing. Although these are often visually appealing and can create great value, it is vital to ensure you are selecting a graph that best represents your data.
Sweetspot would like to recommend a few tips to make sure you use the best visualization for your insight delivery need by exploring a number of graph types.
To kick-off our new series off we’d like to go back to basics with one of the most common graphs: The bar graph.
A familiar design to most, the bar graph is used to represent categorical data along a nominal or ordinal scale. Bar graphs are easily interpreted by comparing the length of the bars, which allows viewers to spot relationships quickly as opposed to the effort associated with comparing areas (something humans are not very good at).
Additionally, sorting the bar graph by values (in ascending or descending order) will make comparisons even easier. As quick tips:
|When to use a bar graph||When NOT to use a bar graph|
|Bar graphs are best used to represent:
||Bar graphs are generally not our best option when:
Grouped bar graphs: are used to compare the same variables across multiple categories. If you’d like to see which pages of your website are most visited by device-specific audiences, this the graph for you. First decide which category you would like to look at overall, and then decide what factors are important to you. In this example you can see how your conversion rate breaks down between multiple sources.
Stacked bar graphs: present information in a sequence, allowing the reader to not only compare, but also view the data breakdown of each category. For example, If you would like to see how your social media outlets are engaging with the public quarterly:
We split our main axis in intervals of 50 in the graph above, but the data is bunched together. Now look at the effect of “zooming in” and using intervals of 25:
Do you see the difference? It becomes much easier to spot the distribution of values.
Keep in mind, you can also use two scales at the same time to correlate data with very different number ranges.
For example, in the graph above you can see two scales used to measure percentage, in comparison to visits/visitors.
Colors should allow you to distinguish easily between different indicators. Notice how in the example above the all black graph forces the reader to waste time working out which bar is which, making it very ineffective. Remember: The right colors make data easier to read!
The graph above is a perfect example of why less is sometimes better.
It’s our hope that you optimize your data delivery experience by choosing the best visualization to fit your needs. Selecting the right type of chart will help your stakeholders (“data consumers”) to easily and quickly understand what is happening, and this increases the likelihood that they will act on it!
What else do you take into consideration when building the perfect bar graph for your reporting or insight delivery needs?
Not Another Dashboard.