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What Type of Chart Should Go With Your Content?

What Type of Chart Should Go With Your Content?

More data has been generated in the past two years alone than in the entire history of the human race up to this point. This flood of information has a name, “big data,” and, like it or not, it’s already influencing every aspect of your business – production, sales, and, most interesting to us, marketing.

With all of this information flying around – and mountains more being generated every single day – it’s never been more important to truly understand how to present, read, and share data in an intuitive, effective way.

Effective analysis – the sort that leads to valuable insights and actionable goals – depends not just on having accurate data, but on a clean, effective presentation of those numbers and trends. Our friends at Hubspot put it well:

“One of the struggles that slows down… reporting and analysis is understanding what type of chart to use - and why. That's because choosing the wrong type of chart or simply defaulting to the most common type of visualization could cause confusion with the viewer or lead to mistaken data interpretation.”

In today’s marketplace, the power of your brand to educate, inform, and convert customers is directly tied to your ability to represent data in a clear, succinct, and meaningful way. But how do you know the right way to visualize and communicate your stats? It all comes down what type of information you’re presenting, and your goal in presenting it.

To find the right fit for your content, look at your data and consider your intent. Are you trying to…

…Analyze Trends?

If your goal is to show how numbers got from point A to point B over a specific period (or periods), then you’ll want to use a chart that conveys growth and decay in clear trend lines. Consider a line graph or column graph if you’re looking at the trends for just one data set over time; for multiple sets, you may want to use a bar graph or dual-axis line graph, which allow you to plot multiple points and metrics at once.

…Compare Values?

Looking for how A stacks up to B (or C or D or E)? While it may be tempting to fill up a spreadsheet and leave it at that, you’ll really want to employ a chart or graph that makes data comparison visual. Try a bar/column graph for two or more datasets, a scatter plot for a diffuse array of data, and a pie or circle chart if you’re comparing multiple parts of one whole.

…Find Commonalities or Outliers?

Looking to highlight the one data point that doesn’t fit with the rest, or, conversely, quickly showcase where the average or median of your data is centered? Consider a visualization that visually points to these numbers: Scatter plots or bubble charts are great for identifying clusters and outliers, as are area charts, which allow users to quickly glean both individual and overall information.

…Highlight Parts of a Whole?

Say you’re trying to compare the sales numbers of a ten-member team, or the allocation of a fixed budget. In both of these cases, you’re gauging the relationships between multiple parts of one whole. To represent allocation and composition, use a pie or circle chart, a stacked bar chart, or a “waterfall” chart, which breaks down one initial number into more specific positive or negative values

…Understand Relationships?

Data isn’t just numbers; it’s factors and variables and change. How does value A effect dataset B? What does factor C do to the distribution of dataset D? To represent positive, neutral, or negative effects, you need to be able to compare multiple datasets at once. Consider a line graph, scatter plot, or bubble chart.

Looking for visual content experts to help you break down your big data into beautiful, shareable graphics and multimedia? Look no further! Drop Geek a line to get started on your digital future today. 

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).