7.4. Visualizing Trend over Time
In this lesson, we will discuss how to visualize trends over time using various chart types, such as time series, bar charts, and column charts. We will also cover best practices for effectively presenting time-based data and avoiding potential pitfalls.
Time Series Charts
Time series charts are a common choice for visualizing trends over time. These charts can display one or multiple series of data, allowing you to analyze trends and identify correlations or causations between different metrics.
However, when displaying multiple series of lines, it's essential to use contrasting colors and line thickness to avoid clutter and ensure each line is easily distinguishable.
Bar Charts Over Time
Another approach to visualize trends over time is by using bar charts. To properly display bars over time, you should use a time series chart and set the values to be shown with bars instead of lines.
This method works best when dealing with fewer categories and larger time granularities, such as months or quarters.
When presenting daily data, line charts are often more effective, while weekly or monthly data can be better represented using bars. This choice depends on your goals and the specific insights you want to convey.
It's crucial to ensure that the Y-axis in your charts starts at zero to avoid misrepresenting the data. Sometimes, visualization tools automatically apply a different minimum value to the Y-axis, which can be misleading. To avoid this issue, manually set the Y-axis minimum value to zero.
To effectively visualize trends over time, consider using time series charts, bar charts, or a combination of both, depending on your data and the insights you want to convey. Keep in mind best practices for color contrast, line thickness, and Y-axis settings to ensure your visualizations accurately represent the data and are easy to understand.