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10 Free Tools For Data Visualization

December 18, 2018 • By

While it’s true that content substantially enhances the impact you make on your website’s visitors, it turns out that a significant chunk of it is forgotten in just a few days.  How much people remember and forget depends on the mode you choose to distribute the content.

According to a scientific study, human beings are likely to forget 90% of the info they hear in just three days. Interestingly, the rate considerably reduces to 35% when the info is paired with relevant images.

You’re wondering why?

Well, believe it or not- the brain is wired to filter out 99% of all sensory information almost immediately. Only 1% is ultimately processed, and that includes infographics.

Eye-tracking studies have also proven that web visitors are paying more attention to info embedded with images. 81% of them are skimmers, and they typically end up reading only 20-28% of the words.

What does this mean?

Quite simply, you have to prioritize on integrating infographics into your website’s content layout. As a matter of fact, content paired with infographics attracts 94% more views than other content types. And as a result, infographics can boost your site’s overall traffic by 12%.

So, to help you design an ideal framework for infographics, here are 10 free tools you can use to effectively convert your content data into relevant visualizations:

WebDataRocks

Quite an interesting name we have here to start us off. And the software certainly lives up to that by effectively displaying accurate data generated from JSON and CSV files.

WebDataRocks is essentially a web pivot table that I find to be satisfyingly straightforward, especially when it comes to real-time data visualization. After feeding it the critical values from the principal source, you can leverage WebDataRocks for counting, sorting, and averaging data, before ultimately displaying everything as summarized info on the grid.

webdatarocks

The thing I like most about this tool is its user-friendliness. The JavaScript framework here provides multiple analytical elements to simplify and enrich web reporting. As a matter of fact, you can save the resultant reports then retrieve them at your convenience.

And you know what? You don’t need to be a tech nerd to effortlessly operate WebDataRocks. Just go ahead and feed JSON or CSV files into the system then let it handle the heavy lifting. If you need to work on the values, take advantage of the drill down, filtering, sorting, plus drag and drop fields.

It really is that simple. And what’s more? You can embed WebDataRocks into Angular framework.

Tableau Public

Ever heard of Tableau Desktop? It’s a powerful data visualization system that is only available to paid users.

Well, it turns out that it has a free version- the Tableau Public. And if you’re wondering, yes- it’s also incredibly effectual. The only caveat here, however, is that all visualizations are public. Everything you generate can be accessed from the system’s public gallery. So don’t be in a rush to join the bandwagon when you’re dealing with extremely sensitive information.

But then again, you might also find curated visualizations from other users to be helpful to your projects. Think of it as a win-lose situation.

If availing your data to the public is not a problem at all, then you’ll enjoy working with Tableau Public’s drag-and-drop interface- which can display enhanced maps, charts, graphs, plus much more. You can also invite team members to collaborate and stay up to date with the info in real-time.

Tableau Public

The storage allowance here is considerably solid since it extends to 10GB. So, of course, it should take you quite some time and thousands of data visualizations to even come close to exhausting that.

Tableau Public is particularly effective when it comes to convenience. It directly connects to a wide range of data sources, including Google Sheets and Excel. Then it’s adequately optimized for mobile devices to help users slice and dice data on the go.

D3.js

D3.js is particularly prominent in the programming world, and many developers simply refer to it as “D3”. Officially, however, the name represents the three “D”s in “Data Driven Documents”.

The bad news about D3.js is that it’s not exactly ideal for novices because it requires coding. But, if you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work, you’ll notice that its framework is extensively flexible. You can capitalize on it for the creation of engaging complex graphs and charts, which would otherwise be impossible in other friendlier tools.

D3.js

Thankfully, D3.js is all about open web technologies- CSS, SVG and HTML. That means you can rely on it to seamlessly integrate with various platforms and web browsers. Desktop, Android, and iOS applications can comfortably support all three technologies.

And speaking of browsers, you’re going to need a modern one to smoothly handle D3.js. Anything that came before Internet Explorer 9 might not be fully compatible with the entire framework.

But that’s not all. It just so happens that you have to familiarize yourself with the D3 API before embarking on this tool. Although this might take you some time, it’s totally worth every ounce of effort since D3.js is incredibly robust.

FusionCharts

While D3 is only compatible with the latest browser versions, FusionCharts can accommodate older ones- as far back as Internet Explorer 6.  So, you can expect to work flawlessly with it without experiencing compatibility problems.

Fair enough. But, how powerful is it?

Well, for starters, FusionCharts avails over 960 maps and more than 90 charts. And that’s way beyond what most visualization professionals and developers would need.

In addition to that, the tool is built to support XML and JSON files plus integrate with a wide range of platforms and devices.

FusionCharts

But, there’s a problem. Unfortunately, FusionCharts is not entirely free. It just allows users to try out all the charts without paying. Anything beyond that is only available after purchasing a license. So, the best approach here would be leveraging the tool only a couple of times.

Datawrapper

Although it’s officially registered under a company based in Germany, Datawrapper is an open-source tool that has been developed by multiple journalists, developers, and designers across several countries.

Journalists were involved because it turns out that they are the primary target users. Datawrapper has been optimized for the creation of engaging visualizations that are exceptionally suitable for news pieces.

But, don’t get me wrong. Other types of users can still take advantage of its features to showcase their data. Simply introduce your data in CSV format and proceed to create custom visualizations like line and bar graphs.

Datawrapper

Sadly, the number of people who can view the resultant charts are limited. You’re allowed to host up to 10,000 views per chart. Anything beyond that requires you to upgrade to the paid version.

Come to think of it, however, 10,000 is quite a solid number. A standard small business would take a while to hit that. Large businesses, on the other hand, are much better off on the paid version.

The learning curve here is not that steep, thanks to an “Academy” section of the web-based tool. Users leverage it for detailed online classes to familiarize themselves with Datawrapper. Apart from that, the system also comes with a “River” section for sharing uploaded visuals.

Chartbuilder

If you’re looking for an exquisitely clean user interface, Chartbuilder should be one of your top priorities. This is another prominent tool that was built for journalists by a famous financial media house called Quartz.

At first, they designed it to help their journalists swiftly convert their numerical values into engaging visuals- for backing up their published stories. Then it was later released to the public as a free open-source tool.

That said, the irony here is that a typical journalist would actually find it difficult to use Chartbuilder. Only a developer would be able to set it up since the activation process after downloading the app involves Python coding.

However, once it’s done, all that’s needed is to simply upload data in CSV form, or obtain it directly from a Google Sheets link. The system will subsequently render the corresponding visuals, which can be customized through style sheets or the tool itself.

chartbuilder

Unfortunately, the resultant visualizations will not be dynamic and interactive. It seems that Chartbuilder is only capable of supporting static charts. But, get this- you can depend on it to do its job comprehensively. The final graphics are usually well-polished and ready for publishing.

Google Charts

It goes without saying that Google will almost always feature every time we discuss data tools. It’s well-respected for its extremely powerful data analytics and reporting capability. And on the visualization front, the powerhouse provides Google Charts for free.

Now, there are many things you’re bound to like about this tool, starting with its exceedingly simple and friendly user interface. And you know what? Google has developed it as a portable system that can work well on all platforms and browsers. It also goes ahead to provide an increasingly rich gallery that can be dynamically adjusted based on your preferences.

google charts

To top it off, Google Chart offers a wide array of data visualization modes- from standard line graphs to extensively complex hierarchical treemaps. Now that coupled with the corresponding set of vast data controls makes Google Charts exceptionally ideal for all types of projects.

Charted

If you’re looking for simplicity that surpasses Google Charts’, you might want to check out Charted. It is, by far, the simplest data visualization tool on this list.

Generating visuals here only requires you to paste your file’s link then hit “go”. It really is that simple. You introduce a Google Spreadsheet, TSV, or CSV file, and the system will subsequently display the corresponding graphics in a matter of seconds.

charted

The problem here is that Charted only creates bar charts and line graphs, including stacked charts. You cannot leverage it for a complex chart. But then again, most of the data visualization projects usually end up with these two types of visuals.

To further enrich your project, Charted comes has embedded components like GeoJS geospatial visualizations, Vega visualizations, Onset component, Upset component, and LineUp component. But, you will not be able to save or customize the data.

OpenHeatMap

Heat maps are visualizations that heavily use different colors to form an intuitive display of Geographical data. Well, you might consider using a generic tool to create with one. But that could take you hours of heavy coding to come up with accurate and dynamic visuals.

To save you such trouble, we’ve seen developers introducing various tools that are specifically optimized for heat maps. And one of the most prominent free ones is OpenHeatMaps.

The tool has substantially compressed the whole procedure of creating functional heat maps into just one click. After importing data from Google Sheets, Excel or CSV, simply hit the button and voila! You’ll have your heat map in a matter of seconds.

openheatmap

Google Data Studio

As part of Google’s marketing framework, Google Data Studio is built to improve decision making by generating detailed data visualizations.

Now, here’s the interesting thing about this tool. While the services we’ve already covered usually create visualizations that are ready for publishing, Google Data Studio uses a slightly different approach. It helps users set up numerous data viewpoints as well as dashboards. That makes it ideal for holistic sharing and tracking of real-time metrics.

google data studio

And to further enhance its reports, you can pair Google Data Studio with other Google services like Google Analytics, Adwords, Youtube, etc.

Conclusion

While all these options are incredibly effectual, your final choice should be principally based on the type of infographics you’re looking to embed for the long haul, your site’s overall layout, the data type and source, plus your visitors’ general preferences.