Mastering Area Charts: Visualizing Trends and Patterns

Mastering Area Charts: Visualizing Trends and Patterns

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    Mastering Area Charts: Visualizing Trends and Patterns

    Understanding intricate patterns and trends in data visualizations can be challenging. Area charts are one of the most common yet often underutilized visualization options. This blog will take you through the main elements of area charts, highlight their importance in depicting trends and patterns, and share effective strategies for interpretation and creation. Step into the realm of area charts with us and learn how they can help us visualize data.

    What is an area chart?

    An area chart visually represents values across various categories at equal intervals, sometimes on a timeline, connected by a line. The space beneath the line, though, is filled. It facilitates trend identification and comparison of unordered items.

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

    Types of area charts

    There are three major types of area charts:

    1. Simple Area Chart

    A simple area chart represents the cumulative total of values for different categories or variables over time or another continuous dimension. The area beneath the line depicts the magnitude of the data, allowing for comparisons among categories and the identification of trends or patterns in the data set.

    Simple area chart
    Simple area chart

    2. Stacked Area Chart

    A stacked area chart presents multiple data series layered over each other, displaying their combined total over a certain time period or along a continuous dimension. Each layer of the chart signifies a distinct category, and the chart’s total height at any given point represents the sum of all categories.

    Stacked area chart
    Stacked area chart

    3. 100% Stacked Area Chart

    A stacked area chart shows the proportionate distribution of various categories in a stacked area format, where the overall height of the chart is constantly 100%. It allows for an understanding of the contribution of each category to the total, making it easy to compare their relative sizes and changes over time or any other continuous parameter.

    100% stacked area chart
    100% stacked area chart

    Benefits of using an area chart in businesses

    Area charts provide a clear visual representation that enables businesses to examine trends and patterns efficiently. Some of the benefits of using an area chart in business include the following.

    Visualizing trends

    Area charts enable businesses to visualize and monitor data over time, simplifying the process of identifying patterns and shifts.

    Highlighting proportions

    Area charts efficiently display the proportional contribution of each category to a whole, facilitating a better understanding of the distribution and significance of different factors.

    Comparative analysis

    Area charts, by displaying multiple data sets as overlapping areas, allow businesses to compare the performance of various variables and make necessary contrasts.

    Tracking cumulative totals

    Area charts enable businesses to monitor cumulative totals and analyze the overall increase or decrease of data points. Their stacked nature facilitates this observation.

    Communicating data clearly

    Area charts provide a clear and intuitive visualization of data, enabling stakeholders to quickly gain insights for better communication and decision-making.

    How to configure an area chart in Bold BI

    To design an area chart:

    1. Drag the area chart widget from the widget toolboxto your Bold BI dashboard.
    2. Choose the appropriate data source and data set or table for the chart.
    3. Determine the fields for the x-axis and y-axis.
    4. Modify the chart’s visual aspects, such as colors, legends, labels, and titles.
    5. Utilize filters or aggregations to improve the chart’s data representation.
    6. Review and fine-tune the chart as necessary.
    7. Publish the dashboard or report containing the area chart to embed it in other applications.
    8. Investigate further options to boost interactivity and performance.

    Check out our documentation to learn more about configuring area charts in Bold BI.

    When to use an area chart

    Circumstances in which to contemplate using area charts:

    • When tracking trends to show the fluctuation of data.
    • When comparing numerous categories so that you can compare the contribution of each and their similarities and differences.
    • When showing cumulative data to display cumulative sales, population growth, or cumulative revenue.
    • When analyzing seasonal patterns as in seasonal sales patterns or website traffic it can reveal valuable insights.

    When not to use an area chart

    There are also situations where area charts would not be preferable:

    • When presenting individual data points
    • When presenting limited data points.
    • When comparing exact values.
    • When presenting negative values.

    Tips for using an area chart

    • Highlight key trends to make it easier for viewers to interpret data.
    • Choose appropriate data that can be categorized.
    • Scale the y-axis appropriately starting from zero to prevent distorting the visual representation of data.
    • Keep the chart simple and clear to convey information effectively.
    • Provide a legend that explains the colors and symbols used to ease interpretation of the chart.
    • Add data labels to provide precise information about the values.
    • Test the chart before finalizing it with different data scenarios and user feedback.

    Area chart use cases in various industries

    Area charts are applicable in various scenarios.

    Real estate: Year-over-Year Variance of Average Sold Price

    This widget shows the change in prices of real estate in a place, comparing several years The clear depiction of the trend has been achieved by enabling a trendline.

    Year-over-year variance in average selling price
    Year-over-year variance in average selling price

    Retail: Inventory Turnover Ratio

    This area chart provides insight into how many days it takes a company sells its inventory after receiving it or completing its manufacture, from an example Bold BI retail dashboard.

    Inventory turnover ratio
    Inventory turnover ratio

    HR: Trainer Attendance

    This area chart tracks and records the presence and participation of trainers during training sessions, ensuring accurate records for payroll, performance evaluation, and compliance purposes. The widget is pulled from the example HR dashboard.

    Trainer Attendance
    Trainer Attendance

    Sales: Lead Generation

    This widget measures the number of leads generated per month, from this example sales dashboard.

    Lead generation
    Lead generation

    Finance: Monthly Recurring Revenue

    The chart measures the predictable revenue generated by a company on a monthly basis, from this example finance dashboard.

    Monthly Recurring Revenue
    Monthly Recurring Revenue

    Property management: Tenant Turnover

    The following chart tracks the percentage of tenants who chose not to renew their lease, from this Bold BI’s Property Management Dashboard.

    Tenant Turnover
    Tenant Turnover

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    In conclusion, area charts effectively showcase cumulative trends and patterns, enhancing visual impact and facilitating comparisons. They enable informed decision-making through data-driven insights.

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