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Pie charts may look aesthetically appealing but may be ineffective in telling stories with data.
The goal of storytelling is to ensure that you convey your message to your audience concisely and with clear-cut clarity.
You’ll help them easily grasp the message you’re trying to pass across.
According to UX experts, only a few people truly understand the message encoded in a pie chart.
Before you use them, you should conduct user research to understand better how your readers accept and perceive pie charts.
When you doubt using pie charts, try these alternatives to pie charts.
They’ll convey your message to your audience smoothly.
- 7 Great Alternatives to Pie Charts (According to Experts)
- What chart is better than a pie chart?
- Why are pie charts not recommended?
- What are the 5 common charts that are used for good visualization?
7 Great Alternatives to Pie Charts (According to Experts)
Here are some practical alternatives to pie charts, according to experts.
1. Bar Chart/ Graph
The first thing you should note about bar charts is that they are not entirely pie chart replacements.
There are specific contexts where you’d need a pie chart rather than a bar chart, like when talking about small data sets. Nevertheless, bar charts are easier to understand.
They are perfect for comparing any information with more segments.
In addition, bar charts make the data representation easily digestible and are excellent for tracking trends and changes that have occurred over time.
|It explains large data sets better through visualization.||You need to back up bar charts with a verbal or written explanation.|
|It is excellent for comparing data between groups.||It doesn’t highlight causes, effects, and assumptions|
|It tracks changes over time||It has a limit of data it can represent per time to prevent clutter.|
2. Line Chart
Line graphs are a fantastic option for representing changes over a long period. They can accommodate many groups to make comparisons.
That way, you can truly measure the changes that have occurred among these groups over a long period of time. One great thing about line graphs is that just by looking at them, you can make predictions.
|Great for predictions||It’s not ideal for data sets in decimal or fractional values|
|They work for performance measurement||Plotting too many lines makes it unreadable and cluttered|
|Monitors changes over long and short periods|
3. Tree Map
Experts argue that humans find it difficult to understand pie charts because they can’t detect the difference in angle sizes. To fix this flaw, they created the tree map. This chart breaks the entire surface into rectangles based on the proportionate values it displays.
The largest values occupy the top-left corner of the surface. Proceed to fill in the next highest value downwards, then to the right, and downwards again.
|Best for displaying hierarchical data||It can’t be used to make precise comparisons between datasets.|
|Great for displaying multiple elements at a time||It might be a struggle to determine the hierarchy.|
|Represents part-to-whole ratio|
4. The Waffle Chart
The waffle chart is a simple square data visualization tool with 100 smaller squares that follow a 10×10 layout.
This chart is an excellent alternative to pie charts as it is easy to read.
One thing about this chart is that you can convert the 100 mini squares into circles.
Either way, they look fantastic. But there’s more.
The mini squares are color-coded to represent a specific data set and show their connection.
|Portrays segments well||It can quickly get confusing when the data points are too much.|
|It delivers visual communication.||You can’t add numbers inside the images, no thanks to the individualized spaces.|
|Great for quantitative analysis|
5. The Packed Bubble Chart
This pie chart alternative brings a different approach to data visualization.
It deploys a cluster of circles to convey insight through visualization.
The circle cluster usually varies in size, making it easy to analyze multiple input data sets. It is also the best data analysis method to uncover trends and patterns.
|Perfectly explains complex datasets||Depending on the circle size to know the values proves difficult|
|It is dynamic as it is perfect for analysis in marketing, finance, etc.||It can look complex and tough to understand.|
6. The Dumbbell Graph
Dumbbell charts are fantastic if the aim is to illustrate the changes that occur over time between dataset groups. It allows you to make comparisons between two groups, too. This alternative is a good choice because it is straightforward etc.
|Simplifies complex analysis across platforms.||Doesn’t support the addition of 2 or more categories.|
|It is easy to read and appealing to the eye.|
7. The Bump Chart
A bump chart is a version of the line chart.
The only difference is that it works to show rankings among the groups and categories over a period.
Beyond that, you can also compare the performance of the data set in any category.
|Great for illustrating ranks within different categories||It tends to look confusing|
|It helps you compare the performance|
What chart is better than a pie chart?
The percentage par chart is better than a pie chart for several reasons.
For starters, you can add more categories to a bar chart without restriction, unlike pie charts that only accommodate a maximum of 3–4 categories.
You can also add the labels for each category inside the bar chart to minimize confusion or misunderstanding. More so, bar charts convey your message better.
It won’t be at risk of being misunderstood because of a misaligned angle.
Why are pie charts not recommended?
Pie charts are tricky.
Most people recognize it as a valuable form of communication, but it fails to communicate the profound insight it seeks to share.
As a result, people can identify the message passed with a pie chart.
But they need help to grasp the in-depth meaning and implication of the conveyed message. People often do better with understanding Bar charts thanks to the ability to compare the heights and lengths to extract the message.
Data visualization adds spice to any research work, blog post, or article.
But you should deploy a data visualization model that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional in communicating meaning.
In summary, some experts do not recommend pie charts because they don’t do a great job conveying the insights gathered in the data.
What are the 5 common charts that are used for good visualization?
Although experts in the field do not suggest that you entirely ditch pie charts, they do not recommend their consistent use either.
Instead, they recommend better options for good visualization. 5 commonly recommended charts are Line chart, Bar chart, Column chart, Scatterplot, and Area chart.
With these alternatives to pie charts, you’ll deploy data visualization in your work that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. You’ll actively communicate your message without losing its meaning.