Data is just a story told in numbers.

Before you choose what visualization you want to use, get to know your data better, the story behind it, and always keep your target audience in mind.

Research from Stanford University and the Visual Learning Alliance show that visual representation of data is exponentially better than a bunch of numbers or words on a page.

  • Visuals stick in long term memory
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text
  • Visuals have been found to improve learning by up to 400 percent

There are endless number of ways to create a visual but the whole purpose of using data visualization is to make data communication more efficient. Here we review six popular visualization options on Metopio and when to use them.

Bar Charts

Bar charts are best for comparing parts of a bigger set of data or highlighting different categories. You cannot use bar charts for multiple variables.

TIP: limit the number of places to avoid crowding your bar chart and making it more difficult to understand.

Pie Charts

Pie charts show relative proportions and percentages of a whole dataset. Use when comparing one factor on different categories.

TIP: pie charts appear in Metopio when focused on one place.

Line Graphs

Line charts are great if you want to visualize changes over time or clearly display trends in your data set.

TIP: limit the number of lines you have on your chart to allow your viewer to quickly grasp your story.


Tables present rows and columns of data across multiple variables. Tables are read and provide both a summary and detailed values to various audiences.

TIP: consider carefully the number of rows and topics if you are asking the reader to come to a conclusion on their own.


Scatterplots help understand relationships between a pair of values. They show correlation not causation among large datasets. Bubble size can be adjusted to reflect a third variable.

TIP: scatterplots are not as effective on small datasets.

Heat Map

Maps emotionally connect your audience with a place. Using Map filters, you can narrow the focus to places that meet the criteria you select.

TIP: use the scatterplot to find correlated topics and then place them on the map. Map filters are AND not OR so you are layering the data to create your heat map.

The Right Visualization

The data and tools available in Metopio make these visualizations easy for you to build and easy for your audience to interpret. To be successful, keep it simple even if you need to use more visualizations rather than less.