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Effective selection of visualizations

Too much data? Too little idea what to do with it? Read this!

Lets assume that you have understood the importance of visualization. Lets assume that you are aware of the relevant skills needed and you have those too. Lets also assume that you have the relevant data to build your visualization. What now lies ahead of you is to choose from a range of charts to best visualize your data. What are you gonna do? Fret not; Actually fret a little if you are not gonna read this one. Just kidding. Moving on, I’ll try to discuss some of the most popular chart types that will broadly cover almost all the case types.

BAR GRAPHS

These are probably you first point of contact with charts and graphs. Try to remember elementary school, Statistics chapter. Well these wont leave you alone any soon if you had thought you have had your fair share of experience with bar graphs. Many data types like Street Traffic Data, Customer Base Growth, Product Sale chart,etc are still plotted on these and they are also among the most widely understood statistic representations.

LINE CHARTS

These graphs look like mountain range peaks from a distance. This comparison also makes sense because they amass in themselves a mountain worth of data and insight. Use it for stock variations, company growth charts, profit plotting or whatever you like. A very versatile set of dots I would say.

MULTI-AXIS CHARTS

This is dominantly a confluence of bar and line charts. You can show two or more comparable factors on a single graph sheet to draw parallel comparison. Extensive usage to demonstrate comparisons like “Market Price vs Total Revenue” make them a regular at board meetings.

BAR HISTOGRAMS

Another mate from your classrooms. But this time its not your maths class. These would have been an everyday part of your political science or civics lessons. Generally utilized to depict large numbers and their variation across a time like “Population” of a nation, they provide heavy numeric information. Especially helpful for the Govt. who have to create plans and schemes that affect millions.

PIE CHARTS

Lets welcome the pizza graphs now. Your acquaintance from excel sheets. These make your presentations look more legit right? Haha…don’t mind the jokes. A very neat chart type that is extensively used to represent parts of a whole. Depiction of your company’s share in the market, or your contribution in a project, devising sectors for your investment plan are just a few of the many problems it addresses.

All of us have had an encounter with at least one of these charts once in our lives (so far). Directly or indirectly you would have heard these names and they would have popped up in front of you. What we will see next are some of the outlaws or unconventional chart types. The square pegs in the round holes. The misfits. The trend- breakers or maybe trend-setters?

SPAGHETTI CHARTS

Don’t get hungry now. We have more charts coming your way. This is a very peculiar, yet growingly-popular chart type. Now you would need a visual aid to get a hang of its functioning. The image here shows patent related suits that the tech giants have filed over each other. Acc. to this Apple seems to be the most controversial. Getting back to our discussion; The point is that these charts are extremely beneficial in depicting mutliple one-on-one interactions. They also inform about the dependencies and interconnections that are of extreme use in legal matters.

POPUP VISUALIZATION

Today, almost all of us are on social media. Everyday we are reading tweets and posts and what not about people known and unknown. Ever had a thought how this phenomena looks on a global level? It’s spectacular. You get information about the tweet, its scope of influence, what buzz it creates and how they are interlinked. The similar visualization can also be used for random sample creation too.

MAP CHARTS

A good chart to show off your global clientele. Especially designed to impart regional information, spatial relationships and pattern, distribution across geography. They provide regional context to your data. Majorly useful in expansion plans and business diversification ventures. Also gives insights like which area is doing best, which one needs guidance. You can also see information crucial for decision making like best markets to invest in, best country for good lifestyle. The P&Cs are immense and this broadens the scope of this representation.

STREAMGRAPH

Have you guys experienced and earthquake? Even if you haven’t you would be knowing what a seismograph is? Its a machine that reads seismic waves and charts them. During earthquakes the readings go off-charts. These machines take readings 24×7. So the create a continuous line across the axes of the graph generating a stream of connected results. They create a stream of data and thus can be called Streamgraph. Extremely beneficial in time series noting of data and to read outliers.

BUBBLE CHARTS

For a name that simple, it does one heck of a job. To put it in technical terms, it depicts correlation and distribution analysis. Now in simple terms it basically gives three-dimensional information feed. For eg. if you want to see all your products, no. of each product sold and the revenue generated from each product in the same graph then this is the one for you. Have a look at this image and it will be even more clear.

SUNBURST

E-commerce users better listen up. Where you go from the home page of your favorite retail website can all be monitored. Navigation history can very well be charted. The overall navigation data can be plotted in sunburst charts to show where the majority of your traffic is headed. It will also reveal the graveyards of your website where even ghosts don’t tread. This will help you in managing those graveyards and improving upon areas that are getting most of the limelight.

POLAR CLOCK

Sounds intriguing right? That’s because it is. Works like a clock and gives the amount work done with every passing second. You guys would know the “file copying” window of old desktops where a green bar shows the percentage of files copied. Imagine that but in a circular ring shape. That is POLAR CLOCK for you.

DONUT TRANSITIONS

This is one of the best transitions out there in terms of incorporating new data. Donut charts are quite similar to Pie Charts and exceptionally successful in representing part of whole information. They respond beautifully to live data feeds. With the changing data the charts changes proportion beautifully to give you information as soon as it breaks. It’s beneficial to those who keep an eye on dynamic entities like change in share prices due to various activities of a company or individual.

That is it for now guys. These are some of the buzz generating visualizations out there (conventional and non-conventional). They will change as they are dependent on data and we all know that data changes by the second. I do hope that this information will be beneficial to you.