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10 best data visualization tools for free in 2018 0

Posted on June 11, 2018 by Rob Petersen

best data visualization tools

Best data visualization tools drive better decision making. As Peter Drucker says, “what’s measured improves.” And the data backs up business leaders believe it.

  • 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions.
  • 87% of marketers agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company

A simple pie chart you can one-click using Microsoft Excel is a best data visualization tool if it accomplishes this task. As technology has evolved, new kinds of data visualizations have emerged. Not only pie, line and bar charts but timelines, maps, heat maps and gauges using a whole host of new technologies and tools.

If you’re looking to really exploit best data visualization tools, you should be careful before making a buying decision. The costs of these tools vary widely. You could spend a lot of money before you know if you’re getting what you really need.

To use data to improve decision making without spending any money, here are the 10 best data visualization tools for free in 2018

best data visualization tools

1. TABLEAU PUBLIC: This is the same platform as the paid version of Tableau Desktop with only one caveat: Everything you create with it is public, which means you’ll automatically be making it available on the web via Tableau’s visualization gallery. The company chose not to make its free version feature-poor. And Tableau Gallery is a great resource, not only for business people but also for researchers, students, and journalists looking for ways not just to flesh out and beautify their Other folks have done tremendous work on some truly impressive data visualizations and Tableau has curated that content and made it available for download.

chartblocks best data visualization tools

2. CHARTBLOCKS: Chartblocks, like many of these free programs, basically does the same thing that made Windows so successful: replace the code with a visual interface so anyone can use it. In Chartblocks’ case, that visual interface is their chart designer, which guides you through the process. With its free version, you can make up to 30 charts, export the charts as PNG files (no vector graphics in this version), and get up to 5,000 monthly views.

chartbuilder best dat visualization tools

3. CHARTBUILDER: This best visualization tool has one of the cleanest user interfaces among all the charting tools I’ve seen. It’s extremely easy to use as well. All you have to do is upload a CSV file, or a Google Sheets link, and it’ll generate the chart for you. Moreover, it refreshes your chart every 30 minutes, so your chart’s data source remains fairly up-to-date. The Charted service is free, and its source code is also freely available if you would like to run it on your own web server.

best data visualization tools - datawrapper

4. DATAWRAPPER: This is one of the extremely easy-to-use best data visualization tools for plotting interactive charts. All you need to do is upload your data via a CSV file, choose the chart you want to plot, and that’s basically it, you’re good to go! It’s a very popular tool among journalists, often using Datawrapper to embed live charts into their news articles. The fact that it’s a tool of choice for most of the non-techie people out there tells you how easy Datawrapper is to use. Read this tutorial to get started with Datawrapper.

best data visualization tools - highcharts

5. HIGHCHARTS: Highcharts, another big name in the data visualization domain, offers you a wide selection of charts and maps. They offer many plugins that allow you to experience all of its powerful features without needing to deal with JavaScript. Highcharts is free for non-commercial purposes.

best data visualization tools - google charts

6. GOOGLE CHARTS: Google Charts is user-friendly and compatible with all browsers and platforms. It covers a wide range of data visualization types — from simple line and bar graphs to complex hierarchical tree maps — making Google charts suitable for almost any project. Check out the gallery that showcases the various charts and visualizations that Google Charts offers.

best data visualization tools - myheatmaps

7. MYHEATMAPS: If you want your visualization to provide immediate recognition, a heat map is a good way to go. Heat maps’ use of color makes them intuitive. MyHeatMap has the same easy user experience as a lot of other free software: drag, drop, (et voilà!) map. Be sure that at least two of the rows are for latitude and longitude, and that these values are included for all the data points you want to map. The one downside is a lack of privacy. MyHeatMap’s free version only offers public maps, and those free maps only get 20 data points for each.

best data visualization tools - openheatmap

8. OPENHEATMAPS: Creating a map is simple. You upload a CSV, Excel, or Google Sheets file to owner Pete Warden’s heat map website, click a button and get a map. It’ll live on his site, but you can link to it. This is all to say that Openheatmap is about as simple as sending an email with an attachment.

best data visualization tools - timeline

9. TIMELINE: Timelines are to history what directions are on maps: they show how one thing led to another. Timelines can also be a great way to enliven reports, especially when a tool like Timeline allows you to design and embed them for free. If you’ve got a Google Drive account, just make a Google Spreadsheet using a template Timeline provides, embed it on your website.

best data visualization tools - RAW

10. RAW: Raw bridges the gap between spreadsheets and vector graphics. It’s built on the D3.js platform. If you’re not a programmer, Raw could be the perfect data visualization tool for you. Raw provides a selection of 16 ready-to-use chart types. Customization is one of the biggest positive aspects of Raw, for it allows you to use your own custom layouts.

Do these best data visualization tools give you an idea of one for your business? Are you glad these best data visualization tools are free? Does your business need help with data visualization?

14 best data visualization tools for better storytelling 5

Posted on November 30, 2014 by Rob Petersen

 

 

Peter Drucker

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. – Peter Drucker

This succinct truth says you can’t know whether you are reaching your goal unless success is defined and tracked. Data visualization is technology that lets corporate executives and other end users see data to better understand information in context.

Hundreds of tools are now available to chart, create dashboards and better measure and mange data. They range in price from open source to thousands of dollars per year. They range is sophistication from “drag and drop,” plug-ins and widgets to java script that is likely to involve a web developer.

The growth of data visualization says a mix of data and narrative is now a better way for businesses to tell their story.

Which tools are best to tell your story? While price and software sophistication play a role, the more important criteria are:

  • How you define success?
  • What measures are most important to manage?

Once you’ve answered these questions, here are 14  of the best data visualization tools. They are grouped by categories to help you be a better storyteller with data.

PIE, LINE AND BAR CHARTS

zingchart data visualization

  • DYGRAPHS: is a fast, flexible open source JavaScript charting library. Dygraphs creates chart that are interactive: you can mouse over to highlight individual values. You can click and drag to zoom. Double-clicking will zoom you back out. Shift-drag will pan. You can change the number and hit enter to adjust the averaging period.
  • jqPLOT: Is a plotting and charting plugin for the jQuery Javascript framework. jqPlot produces beautiful line, bar and pie charts. qPlot is an open source project by Chris Leonello.
  • ZING CHART: is a JavaScript charting library and feature-rich API set that lets you build interactive Flash or HTML5 charts. It offer over 100 chart types to fit your data.

MAPPING

Instant Atlas data visualization

  • COLOR BREWER: Originally designed with federal funding and developed at Penn State — is really for choosing map colors, and is worth spending some time with if plan to make many more. You can choose your base color and get the codes for the entire palette.
  • EXHIBIT: Developed by MIT, and fully open-source, Exhibit makes it easy to create interactive maps, and other data-based visualizations that are orientated towards teaching or static/historical based data sets, such as flags pinned to countries, or birth-places of famous people.
  • INSTANT ATLAS: enables information analysts and researchers to create highly-interactive dynamic and profile reports that combine statistics and map data to improve data visualization, enhance communication, and engage people in more informed decision making

TIMELINES

Timeline data visualization

  • TIMELINE: Is a fantastic widget which renders a beautiful interactive timeline that responds to the user’s mouse, making it easy to create advanced timelines that convey a lot of information in a compressed space. Each element can be clicked to reveal more in-depth information, making this a great way to give a big-picture view while still providing full detail.
  • HERE IS TODAY: is a great example of an interactive timeline which continues to zoom out to give relative times all based on today. It seems simple, but is an example of several good aspects of data visualization design. It compares today with a month, then a year, then century, etc. It isn’t overwhelming the reader with all the data at once, or forcing the person to choose only one interpretation.
  • TIMEFLOW: Allows you to create time-based diagrams easily and quickly. Designed for journalists, it allows for a variety of different ways to visualise the data and help you understand any underlying trends.

INFOGRAPHICS:

infographic data visualization

  • VISUAL.LY: Is a combined gallery and infographic generation tool. It offers a simple toolset for building stunning data representations, as well as a platform to share your creations. This goes beyond pure data visualisation, but if you want to create something that stands on its own, it’s a fantastic resource and an info-junkie’s dream come true.
  • PIKTOCHART; Is a web-based tool that has good free themes and a whole bunch more for the paid version) for creating simple visualizations. You can drag and drop different shapes and images, and there is quite a bit of customization available. You can also add simple line, bar, and pie charts using data from CSV (or manual entry). The invfographic in our previous blog, 6 more studies prove Digital Marketing ROI was created with Piktochart.

MULTI-USE:

tableau data visualization

  • GOOGLE CHARTS: The seminal charting solution for much of the web, Google Charts is highly flexible and has an excellent set of developer tools behind it. It’s an especially useful tool for specialist visualizations such as geocharts and gauges, and it also includes built-in animation and user interaction controls.
  • NVD3: Is a library meant for reuse. The project takes all the power of D3 and distills them down into common chart types. I really like this idea because it gives you constrains and prevents you from running wild with different designs, while at the same time making the code much easier and more approachable if you are just getting started in data visualization.
  • TABLEAU: Places great emphasis on the ability to create visualizations without the need for any technical skills (scripting). and has a relatively easy to use interface. As with other products of this nature its utility is firmly anchored in visual exploration of data using every format imaginable. It is not a data mining tool or a text analytics tool, but sits in the traditional business intelligence camp, albeit with a rich visual interface.

BarnRaisers are big believers in the wisdom of Peter Drucker and practitioners in data visualization. Let us show you how we use them to better tell the s story of your business and achieve your goals.

Which of these 14 tools are of interest to you? Do they convince you of the power of data visualization? Do you want to use them better tell the story of your business?

8 guidelines for great data visualization (with examples) 0

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Rob Petersen

 

 

Data Visualization

  • 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
  • 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (BRITE/NYAMA)
  • 40%-60% annual growth increase is occurring in the volume of data available every year; in media intensive sectors and financial services, the increase is 120% (source: Fathom)

The facts indicate company leaders believe understanding data is a critical component to business growth. And more of it is coming at us in ever increasing rates.

Data visualization is the art and practice of gathering, analyzing, and graphically representing empirical information. More and better data visualization tools have come to market from software services like Tableau, Fusion Charts, Google Charts and Visual.ly to help better display data. So, there is no reason business leaders shouldn’t be able to fulfill their data dreams.

But it’s not the data. It’s what you do with it.

Software doesn’t find the insights in the data, people do. Before companies jump into  Big Data, they should be asking: Have we mastered the principles of little data?

To help, here are 8 guidelines for great data visualization.

  • BEGIN WITH BASIC DATA PRESENTED AS SIMPLY AS POSSIBLE: Great data visualization begins with measurements that are readily available, come from a reliable source and are easy to understand. For example, the line chart below for a coffee shop chain uses just profits by key beverage and time. But it shows very clearly what types of drinks are going to be the most profitable and when. It gives all the information the owner requires to order, promote and maximize revenue and profits.

Data visualization - line graph

  • CHOOSE AXISES THAT ADDRESS KEY STRATEGIC ISSUES: If you want data to provide answers, you have to set it up by addressing the right questions. How you choose and define your axises serves as a primary guide. The chart below plots software companies based on based on their “vision” and “ability to execute.” The axises address a key strategic issue that can provide answers like likely winner and losers based on positioning and competitive advantage. The company data is telling because the criteria is clear.

Data visualization - axis

  • PROVIDE A USABLE LEGEND: The definition of the legend plays an important role in motivating action. The data visualization below of expenditures per student for New York state schools offers a telling picture of where education monies are going, what are areas of greatest need and how they might be redistributed.

Data Visualization - Legent

  • ESTABLISH SEGMENTATION: If you want actionable insights from data, it helps to establish segments or groupings that create differentiation. The chart below shows the Top 100 Entrepreneurs, divided into three segments. From this chart, it’s clear that not all entrepreneurs are created equal. If you want to understand what makes great entrepreneurs, the data tells you to focus on the “Rocket Ship” segment and probe into what makes them tick.

Data visualization - rate of change

  • FACILITATE DISCERNMENT WHEN SHOWING A TIME SERIES OR GEOGRAPHY: When showing time or geography, incorporate colors, coding, history or forecasting to provide perspective or context that shows where things are headed. The “stacked graph” below on unemployment in the US by industry (time series) and the cost of chronic disease care (geography) show how how to display time series and geographic data, effectively.

Data Visualization - Stacked Chart

Data Visualization - Geography

  • IDENTIFY CLUSTERS: When looking at many variables, use clusters to show the data in ways that creates groupings that lead to conclusions. The Cluster Analysis below was created to identify the college basketball teams that were most likely to win the NCAA’s based on defense. As you can see, clustering the many variables that were examined helps to clearly show the teams that have the most potential.

Data Visualization - Cluster Analysis

  • TELL A STORY WITH THE DATA: Good data analysts are storytellers. Effective data visualization is often helped with text. Simple headlines or text boxes help explain what the data is saying and the actions that should be taken. This example below from Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, shows how data visualization might be presented to the C-Suite.

Data Visualization - Executive Dashboard

  • CREATE AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: The data dashboard your company creates should be based on Key Performance Indicators. KPIs  are one of the most over-used and little understood terms in business development and management. They are too often taken to mean any metric or data used to measure business performance.The role KPI’s play is much bigger and more important. In fact, KPI’s are one of the most important guideposts for any business. Every business should have them. Here’s one of the best definitions I’ve heard: KPI’s are an actionable scorecard that keeps your strategy on track. They enable you to manage, control and achieve desired business results. The KPI dashboard below for a call center is simply laid out, easy to understand for decision making and incorporate a little from each of the previous critical components.

KPI Dashboard

If your business needs help using data to make better decisions and ROI, consider BarnRaisers, because that’s what we do. Or, considering taking a Mini-MBA from the Rutgers Business School Executive Education where I teach Measurement and ROI.

Do these key components help you see how data visualization can help your business?

 

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.



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