Because there can be so many different ways to visualize your data, it helps to have a basic guideline to follow, which can be found in this great flow chart produced by Dr. Andrew Abela, Chairman of the Department of Business & Economics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
With Dr. Abela’s permission, I have prepared a similar chart with a few additions of my own. This graphic breaks down the most basic usage elements of any visualization (Comparison, Distribution, Composition, and Relationship) and it allows you to follow a clearer path to map your data to the right visualization. It might not be a PhD course, but it’s a good starting point!
Taking a closer look at this graphic, there are many charts that we could add to what you already see (slope graph, distribution plot, lollipop chart and many others). But for the beginners looking at the illustration I wanted to ensure it was not confusing. In future blog posts, we can dive deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of these charts and other potential charts you can use to display your data.
I am planning to cover what I consider to be the Three Pillars of Mapping Data to Visualizations in greater depth. Those Three Pillars would be Data Attributes, Visual Encoding and the focus of this post: Usage. Stay tuned for more posts from me soon.
Click here to download our complete guide to visualization and discover new methods to map your data to visualizations!