5 powerful methods to visualize data

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Today, every organization is struggling with the problem of effective processing and analyzing of business data coming from many sources. One of the most effective forms of visual communication in a company is undoubtedly a properly designed manager dashboard. Find out which methods of data visualization you should consider in order to design it properly.
What should you pay attention to when designing a dashboard?

Creating a dashboard is not an easy task. It requires not only a business sense, but also an aesthetic one. Knowing the most effective methods of data visualization is also helpful. It takes only a few minutes of designing a dashboard to find out that exactly the same data can be presented in many different ways. However, it is important to choose the method that will allow you to interpret the business significance of the data in just a few seconds. 

Is that all you should remember about? Definitely not! According to DS Stream‘s experts, the crucial thing is to make sure before moving on to designing a dashboard and selecting methods of data visualization that the data you want to work with is properly gathered, cleared and enriched, if this is required by the business.

Designing a dashboard and choosing methods of data visualization 

A well-designed dashboard allows you to quickly find the answers to the questions that are relevant to your business. Whether it is a question about the amount of revenue generated in a given month or the level of budget execution, a simple indicator will work best in this situation. It only takes one glance to get an idea of the current situation of the company and take appropriate measures on this basis.

1. Indicators

Such a simple indicator can be complemented by additional information that will give the data additional context and at the same time allow the end users to get answers to further questions that may arise in their minds. What particular information are we talking about? There is a lot of room for manoeuvre, and it mainly depends on the type of data presented. In the case of sales data, it can be, for example, a comparison of the current result with the corresponding period of the previous year. Moreover, in the case of cost data, this additional information can take the form of a color that will inform, for example, about exceeding the planned budget (red color) or not executing it (green color).

2. Line charts

Although the indicators allow to quickly assess the current condition of the company at a given moment, without an appropriate context, it is difficult to verify whether the obtained result is satisfactory or the opposite. This is one of the reasons why line charts are so popular. They are used in a number of business applications because they allow to present a trend in a clear and transparent way, at the same time eliminating the risk of misinterpretation. With the help of line charts, it is possible to present, for example, sales of individual products, revenues generated in different sales channels or monitor the budget execution of individual departments.

3. Bar charts

Another extremely effective method of visualizing data is bar charts, which are perfect when you want to present different values, divided additionally into categories. Analyzing sales only on the basis of a line chart, the end user of the dashboard will be able to obtain data on the general financial condition of the company, but it will not be complete information. The bar chart will provide complementary information, which may be of key importance to the business. For example, by breaking down sales into individual regions, products or business lines, you can quickly verify whether the organization is not taking too much risk, does not depend its revenue on a single product or bases its sales on one region only.

4. Pie charts

In order to show the contribution of a particular category overall, it is worth to reach for pie charts. They allow you to quickly answer important business questions and are easy to interpret. With their help, you can quickly verify which sales channels generate the most revenue, what share of the total costs is accounted for by individual regions, where the traffic in the online store comes from, and so on. However, you should be very careful when using this type of chart. Too many categories may cause the chart to become illegible and thus lose its business value.

5. Pivot tables

Presenting data in the form of various types of charts is natural when working with a dashboard, but one should not forget about the traditional tables as a method of data visualization. A perfect example can be pivot tables, which are great for presenting complex data and real numbers, rather than just trends. Particularly because they can be very interactive and allow the user to freely aggregate and filter data according to individual preferences.

The disadvantage of pivot tables, however, is that they take up a lot of space, and as you know, there is not much of that on a dashboard. Therefore, it is necessary to think carefully about the structure of such a table and the very reason for using it.

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