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What Data Visualization Tool Should I Use?

Data Visualization

Data visualization tools transform data and information into accessible visual representations like graphs, maps, and charts. These tools make the data we generate more accessible to us because humans are fundamentally visual creatures. One study found that we process visual elements a whopping 60,000 times faster than text.

Businesses deal with highly complex data and massive data sets. This data could be in anything from sales, demographics, customer service, and marketing data, as well as individual team metrics. The good news is that businesses can visually present much of this data with the help of data visualization tools. These tools not only make information more digestible but help promote better decision making.

Tableau

Tableau is a business intelligence tool for analytics visualizing and is highly rated and widely used by businesses. It’s popular across many industries, including insurance, healthcare, and retail.

Pros of Tableau

  • It’s very user-friendly and intuitive, making it great for non-dev users.
  • It has impressive visualization capabilities, converting unstructured statistical data into comprehensive visual elements. The design quality of the visualizations also stands out compared to its competitors.
  • Robust and reliable, even when handling large data sets.
  • A large community of users who are happy to share their skills and expertise on forums.
  • It’s mobile-friendly with both an iOS and Android app.
  • There is a way to update automatically parameters with Tableau 2020.1.

Cons of Tableau

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  • Unlike in other data visualization tools like Power BI, developers can’t import custom visuals. This means any visuals you already have to need to be recreated.
  • When you need to retrieve the data directly from the outside resources (ex. from your client’s website) you’ll need to use web-connectors which requires additional licenses to buy. Otherwise, you will insert your data manually to Tableau every time.
  • While not the most expensive data visualization tool, Tableau does come with a high cost. It’s currently $70 for each user per month for “Creators”. The software requires proper implementation, deployment, maintenance, and training that all contribute to the high cost.
  • It has limited BI capabilities when it comes to large-scale reporting and building data tables and static layouts.

Power BI

Power BI is Microsoft’s cloud-based business intelligence software, primarily used to convert raw data into useful visualizations and tables.

Pros of Power BI

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  • It’s very affordable at $9.99 per user per month. You can also use the free version to make reports and dashboards, but you miss out on the cloud services.
  • Power BI offers a vast range of custom visualizations.
  • It’s well integrated with excel, making it easy to handle data between the two apps.

Cons of Power BI

  • It’s not so great at handling complex relationships between different tables.
  • The user interface is a little bulky and clunky, making it not very easy on the eyes.
  • A little slow with huge data sets.

Amazon Quicksight

Pros of AWS Quicksight

  • It supports a decent amount of AWS and non-AWS data sources, making it highly flexible.
  • It has a cost-friendly and affordable pricing model – you can either pay per user per month (starting at $5) or per session ($0.30/session).
  • Integrates well with other AWS services.

Cons of AWS Quicksight

  • Limited options for different types of graphs and charts.
  • It’s mostly optimized for large screen devices, so it isn’t very mobile-friendly.

QlikView

QlikView is known as one of the most simple yet flexible BI tools out there.

Pros of QlikView

  • It has an intuitive and easy to understand user interface.
  • It’s known for fast and easy implementations.
  • It’s incredibly flexible, with users tweaking almost all objects down to the smallest detail.
  • It’s highly effective at consolidating data, reducing the need for manual reporting and the human errors that come with it.
  • Powerful filtering tools

Cons of QlikView

  • More expensive than other options at $30/user/month for groups and teams and $70 for the Professional package. The cost is prohibitive for large organizations because the pricing structure lacks flexibility.
  • The email reporting features are poorly designed.

Looker

Looker is the software that makes it easy to choose, customize, and create a variety of interactive visualizations, providing a variety of graphs and charts to choose from.

Pros of Looker

  • Offers analytics code blocks with SQL patterns customizable to your specific needs.
  • No need to extract data can leave it in the database.
  • Integrates with big data platforms and databases.
  • Offers a visualization library of bubble charts, word clouds, chord diagrams, spider web charts, and heatmaps.

Cons of Looker

  • Long wait times for large marketing dashboards to load.
  • Without an external tool, getting your marketing data into Looker is a very manual process — you can either use spreadsheets or build APIs in the house (which is very resource intensive).

It is worth noting that despite the variety of data visualization software, there are a few JavaScript libraries that require a user to have some programmer skills.

FusionCharts

FusionCharts is a robust JavaScript charting library that renders charts out of the box.

Pros of FusionCharts

  • Over 95 charts and 1000 maps. Great for businesses that want a lot of options but are unsure what charts they will need.
  • Great for developers.
  • 24/7 support and extensive and detailed customer documentation.
  • Free trial available.

Cons of FusionCharts

  • Customizations can be daunting, especially for non-developers.
  • Complicated setup.
  • Inflexible pricing structure. $497 for a single developer or the SaaS application, and $2,497 for up to 10 developers.

Highcharts

An alternative to FusionCharts, with a few differences.

Pros of HighCharts

  • Can handle large data sets.
  • Has a wide selection of chart types.
  • It has more customizable animations compared with FusionCharts, although FusionCharts does have more advanced customizations.
  • Mobile optimized.

Cons of HighCharts

  • Customizations can be complex beyond colors and width, and height.

HighCharts is priced at $538 for the Highcharts Developer package, with additional Maps, Gantt, and Stock packages. 

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