How do you choose the right visualisation to show your data? Usually the customer wants one thing, the business user want something else, the business sponsor wants something flashy…. and it’s hard to tease out the requirements, and that’s before you’ve even opened up Power BI such as Power View, Excel, Tableau or whatever your preferred data visualisation software.
In other words, there are simply too many charts to choose from, and too many requirements to meet. Where do you start?
I found this fantastic diagram which can help you to choose the right visualisation. I’m often surprised to see that people haven’t seen this before. Note: this diagram was done by Andrew Abela of Extreme Presentation and the source is here and his email address is on the slide, so be sure to thank him if you’ve found it useful. If you can’t see it very well, click here to go to the source.
Chart Choosers should not replace common sense, however, and Naomi Robbins has written a nice piece here which is aimed at the wary. However, diagrams like Abela’s can really help a novice to get started, and for that, I’d like to thank him for his work.
How does it related to Microsoft’s Power BI? If you look at the visualisations that are available in Power View, you can see that most of the visualisations in the diagram are available in Power BI. The ones that are excluded are the 3D graphs, circular area charts, variable width charts, or the waterfall chart.
Why no 3D? I personally hope that Microsoft will leave 3D out of Power BI tools, unless of course it is in Power Map. With 3D on a chart, it is harder to identify the endpoints, and it can take us longer. It might also mean that points are occluded. If you’re interested and want to see examples, here is one by the Consultant Journal team or you can go ahead and read Stephen Few’s work. If you haven’t read anything by Stephen Few, get yourself over to his site right now. You won’t regret it. Why is it different from Power Map? 3D maps provide context, and they are the exception where I will use 3D for a data visualisation showing business data. I’m obviously excluding other types of non-business data here, such as medical imaging and so on.
Why no circular area or variable width charts? I am not a fan of variable width of circular area because we aren’t very good at evaluating area when we look at charts and graphs, and Robert Kosara has an old-but-good post on this topic here.
This blog is mainly for me to remember stuff but I hope it helps someone out there too.
The topic focuses on some data visualisation theory, an overview of Big Data and finalises the Microsoft distribution of Hadoop. I will try to record the demo as part of a PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter online webinar at some point, so please watch this space.
I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your feedback.
I’m delighted and proud to be presenting at the PASS Business Analytics Conference this week, in Chicago, Illinios, on 11th and 12th April.
I love SQLPass Summit, and it is one of the highlights of my year. The Business Analytics conference is happening for the first time, and I can’t wait to meet the new #SQLFamily – or should that be #PASSBAFamily – that I will meet! I’m already making arrangements to meet fellow BA and Twitterati ‘in person’, which is one of my personal favourite things to do! See you there!
The takeaways will focus on:
- Introduction: Finding patterns in the data.
- Further Data Visualisations: learn about visualisations that are perhaps not so well-known. This includes Stephen Few’s bullet charts and Tufte’s Sparklines in SSRS.
- Multivariate data: We will cover the complexities of displaying multivariate data since is potentially more complex by visualisations. For example, we will look at Tufte’s “small multiples” in Power View and in Reporting Services.
- Putting it all together: Considerations for Dashboards. This workshop aims to deliver a breadth of data visualisation knowledge, underpinned by cognitive psychology theory to provide deeper understanding.
To register for DatabaseDays, please go to http://www.databasedays.com/:
As I discussed during the session, there were three main strands of mobilising Microsoft technology:
– use third party products such as PivotStream to free your PowerPivots
– use cloud computing e.g. Azure
– use SharePoint
These options will not suit everyone but it might help somebody to decide which path is the right one for them. I look forward to your commentary and feedback.