Slice More Time For Analysis When Using Pie Charts

Consider the best practices of data visualization before you start your analysis!


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Remember Sophia?  She was our data hero in my last blog post about Data Storytelling.  Sophia is a fast rising financial analyst who makes her living making data into actionable decisions for her organization. Sophia is like most business people out there - loves data but perhaps doesn’t necessarily know how to best present it.  What she also doesn’t realize is that there is a whole field of study on data visualization. There are great best practices guides out there like Patrik Lundblad's How to Choose the Right Chart guide.  There are also some common best practices on pie charts.

This article by Benjamin Starr highlights four key points which are important for any pie chart.

  • Visualize no more than five categories per chart
  • Don’t use multiple pie charts for comparison
  • Make sure all data adds up to 100%
  • Order slices correctly

Sophia now needs to remember these key practices in order for her users to better understand the data. For every pie chart, she needs to refer to these steps.  How many pie charts does one create over a lifetime of data analysis?  Just a minute or two per pie chart could mean hours of work or more for a single person - less time analyzing and adding value to the organization.  Sophia is lucky in that she uses Qlik Sense.  Let’s see how.

Sophia wants to put a self-service data visualization tool to the test and has some data that is more personal to experiment with. She enjoys NFL football more than any other sport.  Sadly football season is over but she was curious to see how her team, the New England Patriots, fared in the history of Super Bowl winners.  She would like to show which teams have won the Super Bowl the most.  She needs a static composition chart and will use a pie chart based on Qlik’s 5 Data Visualization Pitfalls E-Book.  This seemingly easy task requires several steps in order to follow the best practices listed above by Benjamin. These are typically manual steps with most solutions including Microsoft Excel.  What if the software like Qlik Sense can do some of the heavy lifting for you automatically?  For example, what if Qlik Sense automatically limited the categories (this oddly is extremely hard to do in most solutions) and ordered the slices for you automatically?  Also, what if Qlik Sense was intelligent enough to do some of the basics in terms of putting in the percentages for each slice of the pie chart?

Qlik Sense Pie Chart 

The Qlik Sense pie chart is easier to read and understand.  Qlik Sense does much of the work for you automatically.  There are some other nice features, for example: proper coloring for color blindness, smart labeling and pie chart scrolling if you happened to use many categories.  Qlik Sense focuses on making the analysis easy by incorporating most of the common data visualization best practices.  By the way, if you do not like the auto settings, it is easy to override them.  Sophia has more time for analysis now.

Qlik Sense Spinning Wheel Pie Chart 

Another reason to download Qlik Sense Desktop for free and see the power of great data visualization for yourself!

Photo credit: ginnerobot / Foter / CC BY-SA


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