Home Business Intelligence Evaluating Knowledge Visualizations: Bar vs. Stacked, Icons vs. Shapes, and Line vs. Space

Evaluating Knowledge Visualizations: Bar vs. Stacked, Icons vs. Shapes, and Line vs. Space

Evaluating Knowledge Visualizations: Bar vs. Stacked, Icons vs. Shapes, and Line vs. Space


Nice knowledge visualizations have the ability to steer choice makers to take rapid, applicable motion. When executed properly, knowledge visualizations assist customers intuitively grasp knowledge at a look and supply extra significant views of knowledge in context. Good knowledge visuals give busy staff a high-level abstract of necessary knowledge. In addition they provide a big-picture perspective and spotlight traits, anomalies, and outliers whereas giving customers the choice to drill down into particulars and ask new questions when wanted.

Associated: 16 Knowledge Visualizations to Enhance Your Utility

However not all knowledge visualizations are proper for each dataset. Selecting the fallacious visualization might flip your dashboards and stories right into a complicated expertise for the top person. Fashionable knowledge visualization platforms provide numerous choices. Nonetheless, When utility groups are confronted with a alternative between numerous charts and graphs—from 2D visualizations like pie charts, line graphs, and stacked charts to extra superior 3D charts like warmth maps, textual content clouds, GIS maps, and extra—it may be tough to know which visualization to make use of for which sort of information.

What knowledge visualizations are proper for various datasets? We’ll have a look at three frequent debates and provide recommendations on selecting the best visualizations.

Bar vs. Stacked Chart

Bar charts are finest used when displaying comparisons between classes. Usually, the bars are proportional to the values they symbolize and will be plotted both horizontally or vertically. One axis of the chart reveals the particular classes being in contrast, and the opposite axis represents discrete values.

Bar Chart

Stacked bar charts will be visually interesting, and you might be tempted to make use of one to symbolize the identical knowledge as proven above. Nonetheless, when a bar chart turns into a stacked bar chart, not everybody reads them accurately—which might result in incorrect knowledge evaluation. The stacked bar chart under will be deceptive: Customers could not know whether or not the pink space begins from the identical baseline because the blue (at 0) or if it begins on the prime of the blue space—each of which will be tough to interpret.

Stacked Chart

When to Use Stacked Bar Charts vs. Bar Charts: Stacked bar charts are a great way to symbolize totals. In any other case, stick with the bar chart.

Icons vs. Shapes

With the quantity of visualization instruments out there, it may be tempting to turn out to be too inventive in your alternative of visualization. Many utility groups attempt to present parts-to-whole relationships with an icon, as proven right here.


However typically the previous tried-and-true pie chart or circle chart is finest when representing customary relationships. So long as all of the components add as much as one complete, then a pie chart is a god alternative. These charts are a lot clearer than an icon.

Pie Chart

When to Use Icons: Should you’re displaying knowledge in one other format—reminiscent of in a brochure or a weblog submit—you might select to point out an icon with a transparent proportion quantity subsequent to it. However inside a dashboard or a report, icons ought to usually be prevented.

Using Icons

Line Chart vs. Space Chart

Each line and space charts are nice for displaying traits over time. So when is it finest to decide on one over the opposite?

Line charts are your best option to visualise steady knowledge over time:

Line Chart

You can additionally add a trendline or a purpose line to this chart as an example efficiency in a sure interval in opposition to a set benchmark.

Line Chart with Baseline

Line charts are additionally helpful to check two or extra traits over time:

Chart with Trends

Alternatively, space charts are finest used to point out cumulated totals over time by way of numbers or percentages. These are mainly line charts which are crammed in to supply a deeper view of a number of collection of information throughout the chart.

Area Chart

Don’t use space charts when you don’t want to point out totals. Filling within the space beneath the road could confuse the reader.

Finest Practices for Selecting the Proper Visualization

We rounded up some finest follow ideas that can assist you select the best visualization:

  • Do Your Homework: Begin with the top person in thoughts. Create person tales, collect necessities, make wireframes and ask your customers what they’re attempting to perform as they analyze a selected dataset.
  • Be Selective: What kind of information must be visualized? Stick to important gadgets. Too many knowledge visualizations on one dashboard could add litter and lose their affect and usefulness. Don’t neglect, knowledge visualizations are a visible type of evaluation illustrating important gadgets to the person.
  • Select the Proper DataViz Kind: Every kind of knowledge has an applicable visualization. As said above, a pie chart is finest used to point out relative proportions between items of information; a line chart is finest used to trace an merchandise additional time; a bar chart is nice to point out comparisons between classes. There are others we didn’t cowl on this submit, like GIS maps that are important for spatially related knowledge, and warmth maps that are excellent to point out two column values of a number of rows. However the six kinds of visualizations listed here are a few of the mostly used—and misused—charts on the market.
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