Most of us are comfortable with numbers, but we are confused when it comes to convert the numbers to charts. We struggle finding the right size, color and type of charts for our numbers. The challenge is two fold, we want to make the charts look good (we mean, really… really good) but at the same time we want our audience to focus on the message and not on the bells and whistles. This is where it gets tricky.
Almost 2 months ago our reader Jennifer sent me an email asking if there is an effective way to present market share changes between two periods for 2 products among five competitors. I have replied her promptly with whatever I could think of as better ways to present the data. But I also posted a visualization challenge: How to show market share changes?
I thought it would be great to summarize various approaches we discussed as a case-study in how you can take same data and present it in different ways.
This is the data Jennifer had:
- Here is how she presented it initially:
- After seeing user discussions she remade the charts like this.
- Derek from Information Ocean responded to the challenge with this step graph (which he admits is not so effective). Nevertheless, they are another fun alternative
- Derek also proposed this “who is responsible for that?” chart. Despite looking little cluttered I liked this one.
- Dave from Favillae responds with this aligned bar chart alternative to present the same data. Another innovative way, he used blank series to adjust the gaps
- Nixnut, a commenter, tried bar charts to come up this variation. These are pretty good and provide both absolute and changes in market share values. He used overlapped chart technique to achieve this.
- Finally the alternatives presented by Peltier.
This one is a panel chart (here is an excel tutorial for panel charts)
- A stacked bar chart
- A line chart
- A simpler, neater bar chart
- A panel chart, but this time two products are separated
- Last but not least, these are the alternatives I could think of. First one is a Line chart.
- This is a tag cloud (excel tag cloud tutorial & templates). The fonts are sized based on their relative market share percentages.
- And in-cell chart variation.
Conclusions – Which chart is better?
Well, there were quite a few very good charts. Personally I liked the panel chart version (#7) and bar chart variation by NixNut (#6).
Which one did you like?
Knowing that there are various ways to present the same data and using the version most suitable for your needs and situation is very important. If you want to raise alarm about market share loss, use a chart that alarms people. If you want to downplay the marketshare loss, use a chart that barely shows the information.