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  • Writer's pictureJefrey Gomez

5 Data Visualization Tools that You Simply Can’t Overlook

In today’s day and age, where data has assumed gigantic proportions, understanding data has become more critical than ever to obtain some actionable insights. However, consuming large sets of data can often be nothing short of a Herculean task. The magnitude of data can often be so large that it can be impossible to extract anything meaningful out of it.

That’s why data visualization has become so important to understand the hidden patterns and layers in the data.

As data visualization involves the analysis of data in the form of visuals like graphs and images, it makes it easy to analyze big datasets.

However, creating data visualizations can be just as frustrating as analyzing large data sets. It would require one to spend dozens or hundreds of hours plotting dots on a scatter chart.

That’s where data visualization tools come in as they can provide designers with easier ways to create visual representations of large data sets.

So, here are 5 data visualization tools that can help you break down the most boring spreadsheets of information into beautiful and descriptive bar charts that are easy to comprehend.

1. Tableau

Tableau is undeniably one of the most popular data visualization tools that can help people form a clear opinion according to the data analysis. Its ability to visualize data and deliver output in a short time frame, while maintaining the highest security standards make it a firm favourite for users.

By using Tableau, you can prepare, clean, and format data to create data visualizations and obtain actionable insights, which you can share with others. With its drag-and-drop feature, you can perform tasks easily and quickly.

Another reason why Tableau is so popular amongst users is that it doesn’t require the user to write codes and is compatible with a lot of data sources. It covers a whole range of bases, which makes it ideal to be used for both individual data analysts as well as business teams and organizations.

You can use it for free during its 14-day-free trial period, following which you will need to purchase the paid version if you seek to continue using it. At $70/ month/ user it may seem a tad expensive, but the plethora of features it offers completely justify the price.

2. Infogram

If you’re a non-designer looking for data visualization of a large set of data, Infogram is for you. It is a fully-featured drag-and-drop data visualization tool that can help you create useful and impactful visualizations of data for everything from marketing reports and maps to social media posts and infographics.

Once you are done with the visualization, you can retrieve it in various formats like .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .HTML, and .PDF. It consists of more than 35 types of charts and over 550 types of maps. It also offers interactive visualizations, which are suited for embedding into apps or websites.

Moreover, if you’re a WordPress user, its WordPress plugin will make embedding visualizations even easier. Also, it allows the import of additional data sources through API. Its drag and drop editor will further make data visualization easier and quicker.

Infogram comes with a free plan that consists of basic features. If you need more features, you can go for any of its paid versions starting at $19 per month and billed annually.

3. Datawrapper

Almost everyone in the news business must have heard of Datawrapper as this tool was specifically created to add charts and maps to news articles. The tool has been increasingly used by news platforms to create and embed interactive maps and charts.

Once you have imported the data, you can create charts with a single click. It offers plenty of visualization alternatives like bar charts, area charts, scatter plots, locator maps, symbol maps, etc. However, it has limited data sources, with its primary method being copying and pasting data into the tool.

Its finished visualizations are high-quality and remind the users of those seen on sites like the Boston Globe or the New York Times. Therefore, it’s no surprise that major publications like the Times, Fortune, and Mother Jones are also using its charts. However, its in-built colour blindness checker is possibly the feature that makes it completely unique.

You can go for Datawrapper’s free plan if you have a small website with limited traffic and want to embed graphics on it. While the paid plan is somewhat on the expensive side at $599/ month, the extensive range of features that it offers makes up for the high price.

4. Google Charts

Google Charts is a powerful data visualization tool that is meant specifically for the creation of interactive charts that can be embedded online. It operates on dynamic data and the outputs are purely based on SVG and HTML5. Therefore, they work in browsers without requiring any additional plugins.

Google Charts is compatible with a range of data sources like Google Spreadsheets, Salesforce, Google Fusion Tables, and other SQL databases. Also, it offers various chart types, including histograms, pie charts, scatter charts, maps, and treemaps among many others. You can completely customize these maps through simple CSS editing.

You can use it for free. However, it offers very limited support beyond the tutorials and available forum. So, you need to be somewhat comfortable with coding to make the most of it.

5. Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is the data visualization tool added to Google’s repertoire of applications. Unlike some other complex tools on this list like Tableau and Datawrapper, GDS aims for simplicity, which also limits its capabilities to some extent.

It is mainly meant for semi-technical users who can work around with numbers and know how to use Excel very well. However, if you have already been using Google’s BigQuery for data warehousing along with other Google tools, you will find GDS most suited to your needs.

GDS is mainly centred around the concept of “report”, and a GDS report closely resembles a Google Slide presentation. Also, it offers the drag-and-drop feature, thereby allowing the user to resize and align charts freely. While this offers the designers more room to try new things, it can seem like an unnecessary hassle to the ones who want quick auto-arranged charts.

You can use GDS for free as Google is offering it as part of its Cloud Platform solutions. However, it might start charging for it in the future.

So, Which One’s Your Pick?

The variety of data visualization tools that are available to designers today can make it quite challenging for them to choose one out of them. But considering these tools based on one’s needs can offer more clarity. While Tableau can work amazingly well for people who want to create public-facing visualizations, Infogram can come in handy for both designers and non-designers. If you’re in the news business, Datawrapper should be your instant pick. If you're comfortable with a little coding, go for Google Charts. However, if you are looking for a simple data structure, consider going for Google Data Studio.

Remember that selecting the most powerful tool isn’t always the best idea; a simpler tool can often be what’s needed at a point.


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