9 Ways to Improve Your Data Visualizations with Reveal

Casey McGuigan / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

When working with data sets, it’s important to make sure that your data is being properly and efficiently presented to your audience. There are many different features and tricks you can use on your visualizations to make sure they are understandable, succinct, and informative. Here are some quick formatting choices and additions that will improve overall readability and meaning behind your graphs and charts.

Apply Conditional Formatting

Conditional formatting gives you quick indicators for the skew of your data based on the given bounds that you have assigned to it. For example, if having a Click Through Rate on your Marketing Ads over 30% is proficient, between 30% and 20% is fair, and below 20% is poor, then you can quickly see with conditional formatting when your campaigns are meeting your goals or not. 

Add Trendlines

You can show trends, moving averages and more insights within your data on your visualizations just by adding a trendline. Trendlines are a very simple, yet powerful tool to help you determine trends in data sets and define thresholds for taking action. There are several trendlines out there that you can use on your visualizations depending on your data. 

Add a Filter

Adding filters to your dashboard or visualization allows you to pivot your data on the fly to gain deeper insights. You can add filters using any of the fields available to you within your data source at three different levels:

Data Filters: As the creator you can filter your data within the editor to tailor the exact data your viewers will see within each visualization. 

Visualization Filter: Add filters at the visualization level so that when a user maximizes the visualization, they can rapidly see different views of the data. 

Dashboard Filter: At the highest level, connect all or as many visualizations you want to a dashboard level filter that allows a user to see multiple data points from a new perspective.

Add a Hierarchy

Adding hierarchy to your visualization lets you view data from a high level and drill down into specifics as you begin to ask questions. The following pie chart shows the spend by territory for my marketing efforts: 

                                                                                                           

Using a simple hierarchy, I can drill-down into the Americas territory with two quick clicks:


Now I can see how much of that total spend in the Americas went towards my individual campaigns: 

Sort Your Data

When your data isn’t based on date-oriented viewing, sorting the data either in descending or ascending order will visually display the story you are trying to tell.

Instead of having your viewers try to figure out where they have the most and least amount of budget from this visualization: 

Sort the budget field in descending order to guide your viewer:

                           

 Format Your Data

Formatting your data can be a quick, simple way to make the numbers more visually appealing and easier for an end user to read. For either gauges or charts such as bar charts and column charts, you can adjust your data formatting to show a certain number of decimals, comma separators, displays as numbers, currency, percentage, or large number formatting.

Include a Comparison

You can both improve and add more insights to your visualizations by including comparisons to your charts. You can display your data based on date, like year over year, or you can use a comparison chart to compare two data points. For example, instead of just showing your Marketing spend, also add in your budget so you can see how you are stacking up against your given budget: 

Chart Title

Keep your chart title simple and to the point since your data and visualization should tell the story. Primarily, your title should directly relate and support the chart underneath it. For example, replace a title in the first chart below with a shorter one like that in the second chart:

Dashboard Linking

Dashboard linking is a powerful feature that takes drill-down to a whole new level! Linking a dashboard will allow you to link your data points and fields to other dashboards that to provide more details to support your visualizations. This can be very useful to establish top-down analysis paths, where you go from a high-level overview of the reality of a business to more detailed views with the specifics.

In the following visualization I can see that the Ruby campaign is generating far more new seats than the others.

   

To see more details about this campaign there is a link between this visualization and a new dashboard:

 

When I open the Campaigns dashboard, I can see a dashboard already filtered for Ruby:

 

Following a few or all of these best practices for data visualizations will help you better present your important data. In turn, remember that half the battle is having a tool at your fingertips that enables you to make these edits and choices. Be sure to take a look at Reveal, a way to bring true self-service BI to any business.