Charts are visualization tools that present analytical data in a tangible, impactful way. No BI reporting and analysis solution is complete without providing ways to visualize information. Charts and graphs help users better understand their data and provide a fast, more meaningful view in context, especially when comparing data.
It’s important to choose the most appropriate visualization tool for the type of information you want to display. Chart types range from standard flat charts – including line, pie, bar, stacked bar charts, and so on – to more advanced three-dimensional charts like heat maps, text clouds, and GIS maps.
It should be immediately apparent what users should take away from a particular chart or graph, so don’t bury the point in a complex design. End-users need to be able to glance at their dashboard and understand what they are looking at, whether targets are on track, and how to take action when they’re not.
For example, a pie chart is best used to show relative proportions between pieces of data, while a line chart is best used to track an item overtime. A heat map is ideal to show two column values of multiple rows of data, while geographic mapping is becoming essential for spatially relevant data.
Many business analytics vendors will help identify which visualizations are most effective for the type of data being examined. It’s then up to the user and/or designer to customize and create the visualizations.