Many data analysis projects involve comparisons, and it is no wonder because comparisons give in-depth insights and reveal trends and patterns. Data points give only some information, but you will be able to make better-informed decisions.
There are various comparison charts that allow you to look at your data from different angles. The best chart for you to choose depends on many factors. It depends on the kind of data and the kind of features you want to visualize.
Another important factor is your audience. Is it intended for specialists or is it for a broader audience? Should you lead your audience to some kind of conclusion?
This article provides an overview of the kind of comparison charts that you could use. It covers many of the most common comparison diagram types and how you can use them. The article serves as a toolbox for the visualization tools at your disposal.
Keep reading to discover a world of comparison charts and to find out what works best for your projects.
When to Use a Comparison Chart
Charts can serve many different purposes. You can use them to illustrate a point. Or you can use them to show how your data helped you to solve a problem. Many use them in presentations to illustrate changes that result from a certain situation.
A graph or chart gives you a direct comparison between values and an understanding of how they relate. It will show you different trends and how one parameter impacts another. They may even reveal a relationship between data points or groups that seem to have no relation.
Common reasons for using a comparison chart include
- Evaluation of pros and cons
- Highlighting differences and similarities between options
- Decision-making and choosing between options
- Organizing and presenting information in a clear and understandable manner
Comparison charts are very useful for weighing the pros and cons between options. They make it easy to see how they differ and what differences are most important. Also, they are very effective in communicating results and statistics to an audience.
Top Comparison Chart Types You Should Try
The following is a list of the most popular comparison charts. Experts in data visualization see them as the most effective charts to communicate key data information.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
The bar chart is one of the simplest and most straightforward comparison charts. The classic look makes them easy to recognize and easy to understand.
The varying height of each bar represents a number. In most cases, the height is proportionate to a numerical value or percentage. On the other axis, you can compare different values and categories.
The best way to use bar charts is when you have several items to compare. When you have more than ten items, the bar chart works very well. The bar chart is effective because it declutters data visualization. They are easy to make and easy to understand.
Another good thing about them is that you can use them for almost any kind of data. For that reason, they are applicable in many ways in the marketing industry. Here are some examples of numeric data you can represent in a bar chart:
- Group sizes
- Survey results
This type of comparison chart also works well for communicating discrete and categorical data. Applications include sales statistics for products, market share within the industry, et cetera.
You can add a specific dimension by displaying time on the horizontal axis. In that way, you can show a comparison over time or how a certain data set changes over time. Bar charts are useful for analyzing trends, progress tracking, and extracting seasonal patterns.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
You can use bubble charts when you want to represent independent values. They make it easy to identify outliers.
Bubble charts are like scatter plots but they add another dimension. In scatter plots, you can only compare two values. Bubble plots allow you to add a third variable by changing the bubble size. If there is little variation in bubble size, you can add labels.
The circle area, or circle size, is the factor you can change to represent a value. Comparing bubble size is not easy for the human eye. So, it is best to use this type of comparison chart when there are clear differences in your data. To make it even clearer, it is recommended to label each bubble with its numerical value.
Size and proportion are two elements that you can represent well in a bubble chart. The bubble size represents its value so you can compare different categories and data points.
Bubble plots have a visual hierarchy which makes them easy to interpret. Your audience will be able to notice differences at a glance.
You can use bubble charts in different settings, like financial analysis. Financial experts use them to compare stocks within their market, prices, trading volume, and so on.
For example, you can use the size to show a company’s market capitalization. On the horizontal axis, you can represent stock price and on the vertical axis trading volume. The overall picture allows investors to identify investment opportunities and market trends.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
In a pie chart, you can show the composition of a complete data set which makes them excellent for showing percentages and proportions.
Pie charts show how a whole consists of different parts. They make it easy to understand distributions. The size of each category represents the proportion within the whole. Your audience will be able to understand what the relative proportions are and how significant each component is.
Pie charts find many applications because they are so easy to understand. Still, they have certain limitations. You can only use them to explain the composition of a whole.
Designers of marketing content make good use of the characteristics of the pie chart. One such application is in showing the size of market segments. These comparison charts illustrate, for example, how mobile phone manufacturers compare.
Because pie charts work well for showing percentages, many use them for showing budget allocations. You can show how your money is being spent on entertainment, housing, transportation, and other categories.
Another common application in visualizing survey responses, such as multiple-choice questions. Each pie segment represents one of the responses. Audiences can see with ease what the most popular answers are.
As a last example, note how you can use pie charts to show demographic information. You can show the distribution of age groups or the distribution of genders throughout an organization.
Mosaic or Mekko Charts
Pie, bar, and bubble charts are great tools for showing a limited number of categories in one plot. Sometimes, you need to show many variables over different categories at the same time. It is even more complicated when the data you want to show is not numerical. How can you do that?
Mosaic, or Mekko, charts, could be a good choice in such situations. A market analyst might want to compare the size of the mobile phone market and the age distribution within each group.
In this case, a mosaic chart is the solution. It allows users to show different variables in a simple and clear manner.
Another example of how to use mosaic charts is for the use of resources over different tasks or projects. You could represent the time or effort for each task on the x-axis. The height could then represent the project’s budget or timeline.
It is clear then, that mosaic charts are excellent tools in project management. They help to get a better understanding of resource distribution and project bottlenecks or imbalances.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
In a line chart, you can show how a value changes over a continuous measurement. Time is a very common value on line charts’ x-axis. Line charts easily display when there are positive and negative changes.
Line charts show overall trends and allow viewers to make simple predictions and future projections.
Derivatives of the line chart are the ridgeline plot and the sparkling plot.
Most are familiar with the line plot. Each data point appears as a dot and the dots are connected by a line. It can reveal trends over a certain time span. You can use different colors for different lines.
The main application of line plots is in showing continuous data. The line connection between the data points emphasizes their continuity and flow. You can imagine using line plots for showing performance data, temperature variations, stock prices, and so on. Anything that varies over time you can show in a line plot.
It is not necessary that a line plot’s axis starts at zero. It is important to clarify when the axis does not start at zero. You will still be able to show a trend or comparison. Be aware that some might not understand that the axis starts at a different value.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
Radar charts are also known as spider or star charts, the radar chart is useful for displaying several variables. You can compare them in a direct manner because they all start from a common origin.
Radar plots show data points in a circular fashion with data points within a series connected by a line. The result is a polygonal shape.
Radar charts offer many opportunities for showing relationships between multiple variables. The great thing is that you can also compare data between different categories and dimensions simultaneously. They highlight patterns, strengths, and opportunities.
A use for radar charts is displaying relative performances or characteristics across entities. By plotting them in one chart you can show the performance of each and compare them with each other.
Another strong point of radar plots is that they make the identification of outliers very easy. Values that have a significant deviation distort the overall pattern of the plots. The audience’s attention will go straight to those outliers.
Sports can compare the performance of athletes using different parameters. You can think here of agility, speed, and strength. Performance experts plot each variable on one of the radial axes to give a holistic view of the athlete’s performance.
Market research is another field that makes ample use of radar plots. Researchers use it to display attributes of different products or services. By presenting them they allow stakeholders to identify strengths and weaknesses which can lead them to make informed decisions.
Chart generated with wpDataTables
Two-dimensional scatter plots use two axes and position data points according to their values. Thus, they allow for easy identification of the relationship between variables. They give information about the strength of the correlation and whether the relation is linear or nonlinear. Also, with a glance, you will be able to identify outliers in the plot.
There are several advantages to this kind of comparison chart. They give a simple visual representation of the distribution of the data points. Viewers will identify anomalies, clusters, and trends.
There are many applications for scatter plots. In the finance industry, they are useful for analyzing stock relationships. Each point represents a stock’s price in relation to another stock.
The scatter plot finds use in social science too. They are useful for showing corrections between certain variables.
Marketing research is yet another field where people use this type of comparison chart. Applications include highlighting relationships between expenditure and sales figures.
Such comparison charts help marketers see how efficient their marketing campaigns are and allows them to find areas of opportunity.
The box plot is one of the less familiar comparison charts. It uses boxes and whiskers to give an overview of values and distributions within data groups. The positioning of the groups shows the location of the majority of data points.
You can use box plots when you have different groups that you want to compare. If you have only one group that you are analyzing, it is better to use a different chart with more detail.
Still, there are various advantages to box plots regarding the comparison of data distribution. They show the distribution and skewness of the data points. Within the boxes, observers can take note of the interquartile range (IQR) and the center of 50% of the data. Such values show trends.
In box plots, you can easily identify outliers. Outliers are the points or whiskers that lie outside the boxes. Identification of the outlier gives insight into specific characteristics. Also, they allow for the identification of anomalies.
Healthcare is one of the areas people use these comparison charts. They find use in comparing patient results across several groups or medical conditions.
They are also useful in market research. Researchers use them for plotting customer ratings and satisfaction across brands and products.
A dual-axis plot has one x-axis and two y-axes. Thus, you can plot three data sets at the same time. One of the data sets is continuous, like time. The others are most suited for displaying groupings by categories.
Dual-axis charts are charts that are useful for highlighting correlations or the lack thereof. They also allow you to easily compare trends.
Companies use this kind of comparison chart to see how many new customers the company gets each month. Another example is to show how much revenue these customers bring in.
There are many things you can compare in a dual-axis chart. Here are some examples:
- Performance of individual sales
- Product prices and volumes
- Sales of units and revenue
- Sales and profit margin
By adding a second y-axis you can combine different charts in one. However, many find these comparison charts confusing. Some avoid them altogether because of their poor design and tendency to mislead the audience.
Within the category of dual-line charts, there are several subcategories:
- Column and line charts
- Dual column charts
- Dual line charts
- Multiple axes charts
FAQ on Comparison Charts
What is a comparison chart?
A comparison chart, man, it’s just like a visual snapshot of different variables. Like, you’ve got a bunch of products or services or whatever, and you want to compare them on various factors.
So, you plot them on this chart, which makes it super easy to see the differences at a glance. It’s a powerful tool for decision-making, for sure. It’s like having a cheat sheet for quick comparisons.
Why use a comparison chart?
Well, think about it. You’re faced with a ton of options, how do you make a decision? It’s crazy to remember all the details, right? So, a comparison chart simplifies things.
It lines up your options side-by-side, points out the pros and cons, and boom! You see the differences clear as day. It takes the guesswork out of the equation, and that’s why they’re so handy.
How to create a comparison chart?
The creation of a comparison chart is pretty straightforward, really. You start with your list of items you want to compare. You note down the aspects or features to be compared, and then just plot them out on a grid.
You can use Excel, Google Sheets, or wpDataTables. You fill in the data, and bam, your comparison chart is ready to rock.
What types of comparison charts exist?
So, there’s a bunch of types of comparison charts, depending on what you need. You’ve got your simple tables, your matrices, your Venn diagrams for overlap stuff.
Then there’s your more complex ones like radar charts, bubble charts, or scatter plots. Each has its unique vibe, and they’re chosen based on what kind of info you’re looking to compare.
What’s the best way to design a comparison chart?
Designing a comparison chart is all about clarity and ease of understanding. You want it to be visually appealing, but not overly complicated.
The information should be easy to digest. Use contrasting colors to highlight differences, and keep the font size readable. It’s like designing a killer website, you’ve got to keep the user in mind, make it intuitive and user-friendly.
How to choose the right comparison chart type?
Choosing the right chart is about understanding your data. What are you comparing? How many variables are there? For simple comparisons, tables are great.
For showing relationships, maybe go for a scatter plot or a bubble chart. It’s like choosing the right tool for the job, you’ve got to consider what you’re working with and what you want to show.
Can a comparison chart be interactive?
Absolutely! An interactive comparison chart is like a playground for the user. They can hover over, click, and get more details. It can be a static image or a dynamic, web-based thing.
You can use tools like D3.js or Chart.js for creating these interactive charts. They’re fun, engaging, and they can make the data exploration process a blast.
How can a comparison chart be made more effective?
To make a comparison chart more effective, focus on clarity and simplicity. Avoid clutter, use colors effectively, and maintain a logical order. Include only relevant info, and cut out the fluff.
Keep your audience in mind and present the data in a way they can understand easily. Remember, it’s about helping the user make an informed decision. It’s all about communicating information, clearly and effectively.
What common mistakes to avoid when creating comparison charts?
Common mistakes? There are a few. Overloading with too much info, that’s a big one. Making it too complex or confusing, that’s another.
Using inappropriate chart types, not taking into account the audience, poor design choices, these are all pitfalls. Like, if you’re designing a poster, you wouldn’t use a tiny font, right? Same principle. Keep it clean, clear, and user-focused.
How to update a comparison chart?
Updating a comparison chart is just about adjusting the data. So, if something changes with one of your products or variables, you just go in and tweak that info on the chart.
If you’re using a dynamic charting tool, it’s a breeze. If it’s a static image, you might need to rework it a bit. Either way, it’s important to keep the info up-to-date and accurate. After all, an outdated comparison chart is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
Final Words on the Use of Comparison Charts
Creating comparison charts is the first step to extracting new information from raw data. Careful analysis of your company’s performance data can help your business grow. To compare data well, you have several comparison charts at your disposal.
This list of the top 10 comparison charts can help you to see which chart you should use in your specific situation. Each of these charts has its pros and cons.
- You can use a bar chart when you need to compare several data points.
- Line charts are more useful for extracting trends.
- Radar charts give a quick overview of several variables.
- Examination of correlations and relations work best in scatter plots.
- You can gain insight into the distribution between groups by using a box plot.
By making good use of these plots you increase your and your audience’s understanding. Your presentations will become more interactive and engaging.
If you enjoyed reading this article about comparison charts, you should read these as well:
- The Different Types of Charts and Graphs You Might Use
- Charts Vs Tables or When to Use One Over the Other
- What’s the Best Highcharts Alternative? Pick One from Here