Your Guide to the Top Data Visualization Tool in 2022

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In this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about data visualization tools, including what they are, why you should use them, and 11 potential tools we recommend trying.

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What Is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the process of creating a visual representation of a data set’s trends, patterns, and critical insights. A data visualization tool is software that helps you create a visualization.

Though you may not work with data every day, you’ve likely used many different types of data visualizations before. Some of the most popular visualizations include:

Pie charts, which show percentage breakdownsTables, which show data that’s too complicated for textTimelines, which offer a sequence of events over timeHistograms, which show the distribution of a dataset made up of continuous or discrete dataGantt charts, which show the timeline of a projectBox-and-whisker plots, which offer a dataset’s five-number summary (which includes the minimum, first quartile, median, third quartile, and maximum figures)Scatter plots, which show a relationship between two sets of data (like height vs. weight)Bar charts, which show the distribution of data in two categories (like the results of A/B tests)

There’s no “one” way to create a data visualization, though the general process of creating one looks like this:

Step 1: Gather your datasetStep 2: “Clean” your data to ensure it’s consistent and error-freeStep 3: Export your dataset into your data visualization softwareStep 4: Use the software to generate visualizationsStep 5: Assess the reliability and validity of your visualization and use the chart as you please

When discussing data, it’s important to note that “reliability” and “validity” are separate things. “Reliability” refers to how well your data and the methodology behind it measures the thing you’re evaluating, while “validity” refers to how accurate your data itself is.

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Data Visualization is Important

Data visualizations can be very helpful as they can assist you.

Discover BI Insights – Business Intelligence (BI), insights are essential pieces of information that will inform your decisions.

If you analyze your email open rates, it would be a BI insight for you to see that your click-through (CTR), was higher when emails were sent through MailChimp rather than GetResponse. This insight will influence the platform you choose.

Communicate Complex or Detail Results to Others: Visualizations are a way to explain your data to investors, bosses, coworkers, and the media. They reduce complex data into digestible graphics.

You could, for example, use data visualization to show results for A/B testing on WordPress. This will make them easy to understand.

Analyze and Understand Hidden Trends in Your Business Data. While some trends can be easily seen by simply looking at a data set, others are difficult to see without visuals.

If you looked at your ads retargeting results over a year, for example, a data visualization might show seasonal spikes you probably didn’t notice if you only looked at week-on-week data.

Compare Figures in Big Data SetsQuickly – You don’t need to have a large business to generate lots of data.

Many companies track data such as website conversion numbers. These data sets contain hundreds of results, so it would take a lot of time to analyze the data manually.

Common Features of Data Visualization Software

While every data visualization tool may be different, there are some features that all tools have in common. These features are important when choosing the right tool. We’ll briefly explain them in this section.

API for Data Importation

Many tools have an Application Programming Interface (API), which allows you to import data directly from your data collection tool into your visualization tool. APIs can speed up visualization because you don’t need an API to download your data and upload it to your tool.

Chart templates

Chart templates are pre-made designs that can be used to quickly create attractive visualizations. These templates are great for data analysts and graphic designers alike. You simply need to insert your data into the chart.

Many chart templates allow you to customize the colors, fonts, headers and other details of your chart.

Interactive charts

Interactive charts respond when you interact with them. This allows you to highlight key figures, trends or variables without having to create different visualizations for every analytic.

Version History

Version history lets you view and restore older versions of your data visualizations, so you can undo a mistake while keeping your data.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization, as the name implies, allows you to adapt the visuals to fit mobile devices.

Top Data Visualization Tools 2022

There are hundreds of options for data visualization software if you do a search. There are many options, and it can be overwhelming. We have compiled a list with the top 11 tools we recommend.

1. Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is the most well-known program on this list. Excel was launched by Microsoft in 1987 and allows you to create charts, tables, and about 20 other visualizations.

Top Features

Power Pivot is an add-in that allows you to create and analyze large data sets. It also has built-in formulasAutofilter: This program can automatically sort your data

Pros

It is available for Windows, macOS and Android devices. You can customize the font, color and features of your visualization.

Cons

It can be costly

Pricing

A single license of Microsoft Excel is $159.99 per annum or $6.99 per month if purchased with Office 365.

How it looks in practice


A sample visualization in Microsoft Excel 
Microsoft Excel visualization.

2. Microsoft Power BI

Microsoft Power BI is Excel’s younger and brighter cousin. Power BI allows you to create data visualizations individually or within reports.

Top Features

Microsoft AI: An artificial intelligence (AI) program that can prepare and analyze data automaticallyFully customizable dashboardsReal-time visualizations

Pros

Includes many chart templates and pre-set reportsHas Machine Learning capabilitiesCan analyze data from Dynamics 365, Excel, SharePoint, Salesforce, and Azure SQL DB (among other sources)Great for teamsCan create an interactive data visualizationVery cyber secureAvailable on desktop and mobile devices

Cons

Best suited for people who have analyzed data before or who use Excel frequentlyCan only handle up to 2 GB of data at a time (so not suited to extensive data sets)

Pricing

It costs $13.70 per user per month for Power BI Pro or $27.50 per user per month for Power BI Premium. Power BI also offers “per capacity” plans for large organizations.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Power BI
Power BI visualization.

3. Google Charts

Google Charts is a web-based tool that can create simple visualizations from small and large datasets. You can build visualizations to publish onto your website with Google Charts.

Top Features

Cross-browser compatibility: Your visualizations will work on other (non-Microsoft) browsers like Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google ChromeInteractive charts

Pros

You can use it to create many different types of visualizationsBeginner-friendlyYou can use it to analyze data from any SQL databaseYou can customize your visualizations with CSS editing

Cons:

You’ll need a basic understanding of JavaScript to publish your visualization onto your website

Pricing

Google Charts is currently entirely free to use.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Google Charts
Google Charts visualization.

4. Tableau

Tableau is a powerful and well-known data visualization tool that allows you to analyze data from multiple sources at once. Salesforce owns Tableau.

Top Features

Ask Data: A tool that can answer basic questions about your dataExplain Data: An AI tool that explains why your dataset has outliers (outliers are data points that are abnormally different from other data points)Tableau Prep: A self-service data preparation tool that can create visualizations according to your instructions

Pros

Includes a wide range of chart templatesCan handle large volumes of dataCan import data from a wide range of places

Cons

It may take some time to learn to useTableau Public makes your data visible to other users

Pricing

The public version of Tableau is currently free. However, Tableau also offers Viewer, Creator, and Explorer plans that start from $12, $35, and $70, respectively. It also provides enterprise plans.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Tableau
Tableau visualization

5. Zoho Analytics

Zoho Analytics is a data visualization tool loved by over 2 million users — including employees at big brands like HP, Hyundai, and Suzuki.

Top Features

Multi-user collaboration: You can grant other users permission to view and edit your visualizationsMobile BI app: Available on Android and iOS devicesAutomatic reports

Pros

Includes a wide range of pre-set templatesYou can embed Zoho visualizations into your website with little or no codeIntegrates with over 500 apps (including Google Ads, Salesforce, and many social media platforms)It’s easy to learn Zoho Analytics as Zoho has produced video tutorials, webinars, and a product tour for users

Cons

Zoho Analytics is best suited to people with a basic understanding of analytics and data analysis (or with the time to learn)

Pricing

Zoho Analytics offers Basic, Standard, Premium, and Enterprise plans ranging from $24–$455 a month.

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What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Zoho Analytics
Zoho Analytics visualization

6. Datawrapper

Datawrapper is an easy-to-use tool perfect for creating charts, tables, and maps for websites. Initially, Datawrapper developers built the tool for news websites, but many organizations now use it.

Top Features

Built-in color blindness checker: Makes your visualizations color-blind friendlyMobile-friendly

Pros

You can create an unlimited number of visualizations on the free accountEasy to learn to use as Datawrapper has produced over 100 “how-to” articles

Cons

You can only import data from a few sourcesDatawrapper’s premium plans are more expensive than competing tools

Pricing

Datawrapper offers a free plan, a custom plan for $5,990 a year, and enterprise plans.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Datawrapper
Datawrapper visualization.

7. Qlik Sense

Qlik Sense is a data visualization tool designed for large businesses and people who want to use augmented analytics to analyze data. Qlik Sense is the successor to “QlikView” — a similar (but smaller) visual analytics tool.

Top Features

Visual and Advanced Data Prep: Can clean and sort your data automaticallyInsight Advisor: An AI program that can help you analyze your data and understand any BI insights you findInteractive charts

Pros

Works online and offline on mobile devicesPerfect for teamsScalable for large businesses

Cons

Best suited to people with experience in data analytics

Pricing

Qlik Sense offers Qlik Sense Business for $30 per user per month and enterprise plans.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Qlik Sense
Qlik Sense visualization.

8. FusionCharts

FusionCharts is a popular Google Charts alternative. FusionCharts allows you to create visualizations to embed into web pages. Over 28,000 businesses worldwide currently use it — including tech giants like Google, Apple, and IBM.

Top Features

Integrations: Works with JavaScript frameworks like Angular, Ember, React, and jQueryCompatibility: Works with server-side programming languages Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, and DjangoLive data dashboard

Pros

Offers over 100 different types of charts and over 2,000 choropleth mapsBeginner-friendlyGreat user interface (UI)You can export charts quickly and easilyHandles large data sets

Cons

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More expensive than many other data visualization software optionsNot available on iOS or Android devices

Pricing

FusionCharts offers the Basic package from $499 annually, the Pro package from $1,299 annually, and the Enterprise package from $2,499 annually.

What It Looks Like In Practice

This image shows what a visualization created with FusionCharts looks like.

A sample visualization in FusionCharts
FusionCharts visualization.

9. Domo

Domo is a BI tool geared toward businesses with complicated or large datasets. Organizations like eBay, ESPN, Cisco, and Emerson all use Domo.

Top Features

Real-time analyticsInteractive chartsBuzz: Domo’s built-in chat app that allows you to communicate with your teamApp Dev Studio: An built-in program that allows you to build visualizations with HTML, Javascript, and CSS

Pros

Extensive library of report and chart templatesDomo has a natural language query function that can answer basic questions about your dataDomo can analyze data from 1,000+ data sourcesDomo offers alerts that will go off when you hit a predetermined goal

Cons

Not beginner-friendly

Pricing

Domo’s pricing is organization-specific — so you’ll need to contact the sales department for a quote.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Domo
Domo visualization.

10. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tried-and-true BI tool that’s perfect for small, medium, and large businesses looking to analyze their website activity. Google Analytics can track critical figures like bounce rate, average session duration, and pages per session.

Top Features

Integrations: Works with Google Ads, Google Search Console, and WordPressReal-time report: Shows you your website’s current activityInteractive dashboard

Pros

Easy to set upGoogle Analytics collects and analyzes data on your audience, conversions, audience acquisition, and their behavior automaticallyYou can export your data into other programs for further analysis

Cons

Only suitable for analyzing web traffic dataOnly offers a few pre-set visualizations

Pricing

Google Analytics is currently free. However, Google also offers Google Analytics 360, which is organization-specific.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Google Analytics
Google Analytics visualization.

11. Visme

Visme is an intuitive program that can create data visualizations and infographics. Visme is perfect for anyone looking to make simple charts with sleek and aesthetically pleasing designs.

Top Features

Graph makerData widget libraryAnimationsMicrosoft Office integration

Pros

Visme offers many chart and infographic templatesYou can download your charts as multiple file typesWorks offline and onlineAllows you to customize your chart’s fonts, colors, backgrounds, and design

Cons

Visme is best suited for businesses with small and medium-sized datasetsAll projects are public on VIsme’s Basic planVisme is not available on Android or iOS devices

Pricing

Visme offers the Basic plan for free, the Personal plan for $15 a month, the Business plan for $29 per user per month, and enterprise plans. Visme also offers discounts for students, teachers, and non-profit organizations.

What It Looks Like In Practice

A sample visualization in Visme
Visme visualization.

Decision-Making: What to Look For When Choosing a Tool

While we covered 11 potential data visualization tools you could use in the previous section, everyone’s ideal tool will look different. So how do you choose the right one for you?

When selecting a data visualization solution for your business, check:

How Well It Meets Your Needs

As every business uses different data, you need to check if the tool meets your needs specifically. To do this, ask yourself:

Does the tool work with the type of data we need visualizations for?Does it integrate with our data collection software or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system?Does it fit our skill set (i.e., if you are a beginner data analyst, is it beginner-friendly?)?Will it work on our devices and website?

Pricing

Price is a huge factor to consider when investing in new software. Before you click “sign up,” ask yourself:

Can we afford the tool?Is the tool a good value for us?Is there a cheaper tool that can provide the same value?

Future-Compatibility

While the tool may meet your business needs today, will it still be helpful to you one year from now? As many tools use subscription-based pricing, you may lock yourself into a contract you’ll regret if you sign up for a tool that doesn’t scale with your business.

To assess the future compatibility of your tool, ask yourself:

Can the tool handle a higher volume of data?Can we use the tool to track our key performance indicator (KPI) results?Will we still use the tool one year from now?Can it measure all of our website marketing strategies?

Data Before Visualization: Tips for Maximizing Your Data

Ultimately, your data visualization tool is just that — a tool. If the reliability and validity of your data are low, your visualizations won’t turn out well (no matter what tool you use).

So how do you ensure your data is high-quality? We recommend you:

Identify and delete duplicate records before creating data visualizationsDefine your data formats clearly, so you don’t have data in multiple formats (like “10/2/2010” and “October 2, 2021”)Collect data over a long period (as collecting very short-sighted data could give you an inaccurate picture of your data)Identify outliers and account for them so that they don’t alter your visualizationsClearly define your data metrics (for example, “we define daily conversion rate as the percentage of leads that become customers from midnight day one to midnight day two”)Store your data in a secure, cloud-based locationIdentify data gaps and incorrect data, and fix them before creating your visualizationsCollect data with high-quality tools

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Summary

Data visualization tools can be a game changer as they allow you to quickly create high-quality visualizations. Data visualizations have many benefits. They allow you to:

Create BI insights. Explain data to others in a engaging way. Identify trends in long-term datasets.

Your needs and price will determine the best tool for you, but we think Power BI, Tableau and Google Charts are our top choices.

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