Data Viz: Choosing Charts and Tables Wisely

Data Viz: Choosing Charts and Tables Wisely

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    Data Viz: Choosing Charts and Tables Wisely

    Data visualization is an essential tool for presenting information clearly and succinctly. However, with so many options available, choosing the right visualization to communicate your data effectively can be challenging. Tables and charts are two of the most popular visuals. This blog will explore how to choose the best visualization for your data to uncover hidden insights.

    What is a chart?

    A chart is a visual representation of data, typically in the form of graphs or diagrams. It usually comprises axes, labels, and data points and can be produced in numerous formats like line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, and scatter plots. Charts are widely utilized in the fields of business, science, and academia to assist individuals in comprehending intricate data and making well-informed choices.

    A sample chart in Bold BI
    A sample chart in Bold BI

    Benefits of using charts

    Several advantages come with using charts as a visualization tool:

    • Clear and concise data visualization with charts helps decision-makers identify opportunities, risks, and possible improvements, leading to strategic choices.
    • Well-designed charts add visual interest to presentations and reports, engaging the audience.
    • Charts facilitate easy comparing and contrasting of different data sets.
    • Charts enable faster evaluation by presenting data visually, allowing viewers to identify trends and outliers without lengthy calculations.
    • Charts improve data communication by providing a common visual language that can be easily understood by diverse audiences.

    When to use charts

    Charts are useful:

    • In comparing data across different categories and time periods.
    • To highlight relationships and correlations among variables.
    • When you need to display a data set that contains negative values.
    • To display the total size of groups.

    What is a table?

    A table is a data structure that presents information in a two-dimensional grid of rows and columns. It consists of cells where data values or text are placed at the intersection of each row and column. In Bold BI, tables are displayed as grid widget or pivot grid.

    A grid widget is a component that presents data in a table-like structure with rows and columns, resembling a spreadsheet. The grid widget provides users with the ability to sort, filter, and search data while also allowing them to edit or modify the data directly within the grid.

    A pivot grid, on the other hand, enables the presentation of condensed data in a cross-tabular layout, that is, organized in rows and columns.

    A table sample in Bold BI
    A table sample in Bold BI

    Benefits of using tables

    Opting for tables as a visualization tool offers numerous advantages:

    • Tables offer a structured format for presenting data that is easily readable and understandable.
    • Using tables enable the effective comparison and examination of large quantities of data in real-time.
    • Tables can be updated instantaneously as new data emerges, guaranteeing users always have access to the most up-to-date information.
    • Tables can showcase data in a manner that is simple to filter and organize, helping users swiftly locate the information they require.
    • Tables can display a wide variety of data types, such as text, numbers, and dates.
    • Tables can be customized to show only pertinent information for specific users or applications.

    When to use tables

    Tables are used:

    • When capturing or inputting data.
    • To present survey responses, research findings, or statistical data.
    • When you need to reference or look up specific information quickly.
    • For providing detailed descriptions or specifications of items or entities.

    Most effective use cases of charts and tables

    Following are some examples of successful chart and table implementations in real-world applications.

    Charts

    Budget Variance

    Budget variance is the difference between the budgeted amount and the actual amount spent or earned in a particular period. It is a measure used to evaluate how well an organization has managed its finances in a project. This combo chart in the example Construction Project Monitoring Dashboard enables you to evaluate and compare how the company is performing against the budget.

    Budget Variance
    Budget Variance

    Student Performance by Subject

    This example widget shows how well students are performing in specific academic subjects. This 100% stacked bar chart in the Bold BI School Performance Dashboard shows the percentage of students who passed or failed each subject.

    Student Performance by Subject
    Student Performance by Subject

    Forecast of Thread Posts by Month

    Thread posts refer to a style of online communication where messages or comments are grouped together in a hierarchical structure. This spline chart in the Bold BI Forum Management Dashboard showcases the forecast statistics for the next three months of posts based on the previous months’ posts.

    Forecast of Thread Posts by Month
    Forecast of Thread Posts by Month

    Year-over-Year Variance of Average Sold Price

    This example widget evaluates the change in the average selling price of a product over consecutive years. This area chart in the Bold BI Real Estate Management Dashboard shows the product change in price for six years. The trendline helps to show the overall direction of the data in the chart widget.

    Year-over-Year Variance of Average Sold Price
    Year-over-Year Variance of Average Sold Price

    Tables

    Power Plant Details

    This example widget displays specific information pertaining to the operations of power plants. This grid in the Bold BI Power Plant Monitoring Dashboard shows relevant information about different power plants’ operations in a clear and organized manner. Users can understand the plant statuses faster with the coloring in that column’s conditional formatting.

    Power Plant Details
    Power Plant Details

    Ad Campaign Performance

    This example widget measures the effectiveness of advertising campaigns in achieving their goals. Advertising campaigns are designed to create awareness, generate leads, increase website traffic, or boost sales, among other objectives. This grid in the Bold BI Google Ads Performance Dashboard shows the advertisement performance by campaign.

    Ad Campaign Performance
    Ad Campaign Performance

    Employee Attendance

    This example grid in the Bold BI HR Attendance Dashboard showcases employee attendance details, such as employee ID, department, and attendance percentage. The employee details are further linked to the HR Employee Attendance Details Dashboard to showcase more specific details for each employee. Linking the dashboards provides more details should HR require them.

    Employee Attendance
    Employee Attendance

    Product Stock Details

    Visualizing product stock details can help businesses keep track of their inventory levels. This example widget in the Bold BI Supply Chain Inventory Management Dashboard showcases the details of available products in an inventory.

    Product Stock Details
    Product Stock Details

    Chart vs. Table

    When a chart is betterWhen a table is better
    To visualize trends and patterns in data.To display large amounts of data in a structured format.
    To show data relationships and comparisons.To show data in a clear and organized format.
    To present data that has a visual component such as proportion or distribution.To present data that is primarily numerical or text-based.
    To convey data that changes frequently and needs to be updated in real time.To store and organize data for later analysis or reference.
    To highlight outliers or exceptions in data.To perform calculations or analysis on data.
    To present data that is best understood through a visual representation, such as sales figures or survey results.To present data that is best understood through a tabular representation, such as financial statements or inventory records.

    Tips for choosing the right visualizations

    When deciding between charts and tables, consider factors such as data complexity, size, and comparison needs. Charts are ideal for visualizing trends and patterns, while tables excel at presenting structured and detailed information. Audience familiarity and the emphasis on specific values should also be considered. Additionally, design aesthetics and data update requirements play a role in the decision-making process.

    How Bold BI facilitates data visualization with charts and tables

    Bold BI is a dashboarding tool that helps organizations analyze and visualize their data through interactive charts, tables, and other visual widgets. It facilitates data visualization by enabling users to create widgets easily by dragging and dropping the required data fields onto a canvas.

    Numerous chart types, including bar, line, pie, area, scatter, bubble, and radar, are supported. Users can alter widget attributes, such as colors and fonts, as well as add interactive elements like tooltips, drilldowns, and filters.

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    I hope you enjoyed this blog post and better understand the importance of choosing the right visualization tools in reports.

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