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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?

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