29 October 2021
Measuring the output of your business is key to success. There are many different ways to visualise how many units of stock your company has shipped to another branch, or how many tonnes of raw materials you’ve had to order in over the past year. However, there’s one type of chart that makes this reporting process easy to visually dissect.
We have three words for you: Stacked Bar Charts.
Vizlib Bar charts are one of the simplest ways to show a lot of information in a single visual. The stacked bar charts are used to show comparisons between categories when the overall trend is as important as the individual components. The bar lengths represent the measure and the categorical axis of the chart shows the categories being compared.
The major downfall of Stacked Bar Charts is that it is difficult to compare each segment due to the lack of a standard baseline. This limitation can be overcome in interactive dashboards where data can be filtered and interacted with to compare segments. In Qlik Sense, each object in your app is interactive, allowing your audience to quickly see both individual and overall trends.
However, executive dashboards and reports often require a Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) message that Stacked Bar Charts often hide. So how can data storytellers help? How do you create visualisations that are optically easy to understand?
Here are a few tips for using static Stacked Bar Charts in your visualisations:
1. Reduce the number of colours in a single chart by grouping series together, or creating an “other” category. Try to limit it to 5 series or less. If you are using colour throughout your app, keep these colours consistent. Use colour to represent only one piece of information throughout the entire app, like the sales region in our example.
2. Another alternative is to highlight only one series with colour to draw attention or focus on the story your Stacked Bar Chart is showing. For example, our audience may be the Central Region Sales Manager, so we can highlight the central region throughout the application in green and leave the other regions in greyscale for comparison.
3. Data sorting is your friend! Sort the series logically to help the audience easily digest the information. You may choose to sort largest at the bottom and smallest at the top to provide a visual cue to your audience.
4. Add context without clutter. One way to do this is to use a sparkline legend on stacked bar visualisations. This really lets the audience follow the trends of each series to understand all components of the bar chart! Below you can see an example of this combination where we apply the dynamic Vizlib Library extension, KPI Designer, to bring together the stacked bar and sparklines!
Remember if the objective of your visualisation is vague, the conclusions your audience draws will also be vague. As data storytellers, we can bring our audience visualisations that are clear, informative.
Do you want to supercharge your Qlik Sense data visualisations? Download the Vizlib Library demo here.