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Tips and Tricks

Periscope Data’s Visualization Flow Chart

Periscope Data discovery for business is a great new way to let citizen data scientists add valuable business experience to the data analysis process. With this functionality, a series of new analysts will be exploring datasets, discovering insights and creating visualizations. For users who haven’t had direct access to their data before, these visualizations are a great way to further their own analysis and share new knowledge with other stakeholders.

However, creating effective visualizations from data is not easy. The right chart type will illustrate data in a way that clearly communicates insights, but the wrong type will obscure meaning and reduce the value of a discovery. Choosing the right chart type in Periscope Data can be very simple, it just requires answering a series of simple questions.

You can see an illustration of that line of questioning below, it all starts with the same big question: what are you showing? There are four basic ways to answer. Here’s a short summary of the possible responses:

Comparison

Comparison charts are used to display values of two or more data points side-by-side. They are an easy way to pinpoint the highest and lowest values in a dataset. These charts can show a snapshot of several items at a single point in time, changes to a single item over a period of time or even track the progress of several items over a period of time.

Distribution

Distribution charts visualize the range and density of data points. They can be useful to get a general sense of a dataset through averages, illustrate trends or patterns and outliers. Use distribution charts when the goal is to combine a large number of data points to show a more generalized picture.

Composition

Composition charts illustrate how a whole is created from its parts. These charts can be broken out over time or some other segment to illustrate how individual components change relative to each other.

Relationship

Relationship charts show how two or three factors change relative to each other. They can be used to show a positive or negative correlation, which can lead to a better understanding of what may be influential and thereby actionable.

Once you’ve got a general answer to the big question of what are you showing, just follow the flow chart until you land on the right option. Keep in mind that different approaches may be required in an investigation, so you might need to analyze data with several different charts to answer different questions. When creating charts, don’t be overly ambitious. Each chart is best used to show a single data trend. Charts can be combined later into dashboards to tell the broader story. To learn more about data analysis, charting and telling compelling stories with data, download our How to chart your data discoveries guide.

If you’re using Periscope data discover for business to create charts, you’ll follow this decision-making process frequently. We recommend printing this flow chart out and keeping it handy.

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Britton Stamper
A self-described data visualization evangelist, Britton spends his time working with and teaching anyone who will listen about the great benefits of aligning a visual’s design with a business need. He’s willing to go to any length to get people to understand the need for including data in decision making.