Making visualizations look good

My previous 2 posts on Data Visualization Cloud Service were all about gathering and combining data from different sources.  But finding the right data is only the first step in the analysis creation process.  Once you have the data, finding the best way to visualize the analysis and making visualizations look good is at least as important.


Choosing between a table, a pivot table, a bar chart or a pie chart seems like an enjoyable thing to do.  But such a choice is not as obvious as you might think.  Did you know that a pie chart should not have more than 3 slices?  You can actually have DVCS help you choose what is the best visualization for your data.  Just drag some data fields on top of an empty canvas and DVCS will suggest a visualization to you:


suggest bar

Stacked Bar

suggest stacked bar


suggest scatter

I actually have not been able to find a data set for which DVCS suggests me to use a pie chart.  Maybe if I make a pie chart on pies?

These are off course nothing more than suggestions and from here you can start personalizing your visualizations.  And there is  LOT of visualizations you can choose from:

visualization list


You definitely have to check out the Map, Treemap, Sunburst or the Tag Cloud.  With just one glance, guess for which customer we have the most open opportunity value.

tag cloud


Another fancy visualization technique is to combine visualizations;  Making tables or pivot tables of little graphs.



Once you have found the visualization that fits your data best, there are a lots of things you can do to make the overall presentation of your analysis a lot better:

  • Adding a title
  • Changing colors
  • Adding data formatting to make a revenue field appear in a currency format

making visualizations look good

Reference Lines

Amongst the layout options to add, the reference line and reference band are amongst the most valuable.  Great to indicate a certain threshold or target to aim for:

Reference Line

reference line

Reference Band

reference band

My last post in this Data Visualization Cloud Service series will be all about how to present the analysis created using DVCS to an audience.  Stay tuned !

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