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Data Storytelling With Excel – Episode One – Common charts in digital marketing reports

I get annoyed quite easily at bad data visualizations. I think it’s incredibly important to get it right to make sure using the right chart to make sure you format it correctly. You focus the attention right away. You remove all clutter so a lot of things going to building a good, visual and there’s a lot of things to consider.

What is the question that your audience might ask? Quad is the main message that you want the audience to take away when looking at your chart. So there’s a lot of things to to consider in order to make sure you build a good, visual and there’s already a ton of resources online. They talk about how important is the use of color the choice of the way you present your dashboard, the orientation of the dashboard, so a lot of a lot of things come come into play to build a good visual.

So I wanted to do a series of articles to kind of share my experience and give some ideas of how I like to address. Visualization and I am using real, live web performance website performance data and something that comes quite often in my line of work and something that I work with on a daily basis. So one of the things what you see in here is attend for website traffic. So really basic piece of data that actually can tell a lot about how the website is performing.

This is something that I do all the time. Usually I do looking at a period of 13 months or looking kind of year-over-year stacking of this role so for this example, I’m looking at a very simple wine chart that visualizes sessions through a website for a period of 13 months. So we can look at the beginning at the end of the of the line chart to compare year over year results, so this is built in Excel a fairly basic these days tool for data visualizations visualization, considering all the fancy tools that are available now.

I still think it’s great for building beautiful charts. So when you select data, this is, and you insert the line chart this is here. This example is how Excel is going to insert it. So this is the default, and this on the right is how I’ve worked around it. To make sure that I tell the story I want to tell with this and while this first example still shows a good upward trend for website traffic, there’s a lot of things that are cluttered so first, I always try to make sure I don’t make the audience Tilt their head so kind of aligning the horizontal axis so that it really aligns well – and it’s not tilted.

I’Ve included data labels on each data point which in this case is each month and when I include date, the labels. I always delete the vertical axis because I think it becomes really cluttered when we have two points of the same data I remove gridlines. I think they do add clutter in certain cases. They might be useful in this case. However, I think they would just add additional things to look at in this trap.

I always try to include a take away title and I’ve put a few annotations, so this is the one thing I really like about wine charts is that you can include annotations point to certain data points that are important and that you want the audience to look At immediately when they look at the chart, so this is really basic example of a line chart showing overall traffic to website. Another example that I see often is a line chart built for multiple categories.

If you want to look over time – as in this example right here, so I’m going to remove this to see the table with the data we’re looking again and website traffic by social media, and we want to compare how the traffic is, how these metrics are performing. Against each other, one thing I’ll be really careful is to not include more than three categories with the wine charts over the you know, chart that has more than three lines would become really cluttered tangled, and it would really be very hard to process.

So that’s why I’ve chosen an example with only three metrics in my second article next week. I will talk more about how you can handle data, where you have a lot more categories that you want to look at over time with the line chart. So this example here is what Excel inserts by default, and this is something that I’ve tried to rework. So I haven’t added a title here. This is something that you can consider depending again on what you want to tell with this data.

I have decided to use the axis rather than data labels, because with a few lines between each other, it will be hard to be certain numbers. So I have chosen to clean that and use an access and in terms of legend, I have put all this. The names of each social network, social media network at the end, so it’s very easy when someone’s looking at it to see the performance and not kind of look at the line, then look at the legend to make sure they’re looking at the right color.

So in this way it just makes it easier to follow the trend for each of the categories that you’re comparing. You can obviously be a little bit more careful with color and choose different colors. You might want to point a specific one with color, so what I think the takeaway here is from what I’m seeing is Facebook performing really well going up for the past 13 months, while the other social networks have experienced the dip.

So, in this case, you might want to analyze, what’s happened and what has changed in terms of compete are getting on those two social media networks. The other chart that I use a lot – and it comes very often handy and it’s probably my favorite chart – is bar charts and column charts. So here in this example, I have a single category bar chart. I’M going to move a little bit this, so I have two sets of data here that I want to talk about a little bit so in this first one we’re looking at users to the website for each day of the week summarized for the month, and in This case, I would rather have the data sorted by the way the category flows so the way the week goes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on, rather than sort by the number of users.

So there are a few use cases like that. You might want to look at hour of day again sorted by the progression of the hours or maybe age group again, this may go in a progression, so be careful what your data and how its structured and how you want to sort it. So in this example, I’m sorting by the category the way the days of the week flow in the second example, which is this chart right here – we’re looking at users to the website by social network and since social networks don’t go in a certain order.

I’Ve sorted this data by the number of users April to the website, so this is what Excel inserts by default when you click to insert column chart, rather in this case vertical bars – and this is what I’ve done with it. Using some formatting I’ve included a take away title I’ve chosen to highlight the day. That’S brought the most users to the website. You might not necessarily want to do that, but depending again on what you want to see with the chart, this could be a good idea to choose a highlighting color for the best performing or the worst performing category.

So the second example we looking at users by social media, so this here is what Excel inserts by default. When you choose a horizontal bar turn slightly first, the metrics – I haven’t highlighted them in this case, just because they are sorted already by the doc performing social media network again, depending on what you doing, and what do you want your report ones to focus on? You? Might want to choose to highlight the top one and I’ve included a takeaway title, so I’ve used a few that I’ve removed this axis so really trying to clean the charts to make sure it.

It looks good and is kind of right to the point. So other circumstances using a bar chart is, if you have multiple categories so like in these examples here and again I have by week and by marketing blog. The data by we looking at the day of the week is sorted by the way. The days go for marketing blogs, we’re looking at the top performing one altogether, so we are looking at blog subscriptions and use like the subscriptions on the website, and with this with the blog ones, I’ve included a total column where I’ve summed all the both of these Metrics so that I can sort by the one that performs best overall, not by a particular conversion type.

So let’s look at this day of the week. This is how Excel inserts it by default. This is what I have tried to do with with this chart. So I’ve chosen a color. There is software, for you know, kind of is the same color, it’s just different intensity. Just so it’s kind of I I think it looks better. I don’t want, otherwise it becomes really distracting when it’s bar charts and you kept to come. Look at two bar charts at a time for the same category and I’ve decided to keep the ledge and there’s a few things you can do depending on how long the names of those metrics are.

You might include them here at the beginning and get rid of get rid of the legend so that it’s again removing an export, an extra clutter, so here it in the bottom example, where we’re looking at those same conversions by blog. This is how Excel will inserted by default. Again, I have put their categories in the first order, and I decided to use a stacked bar chart and I think, with horizontal charts, horizontal bar charts, gaghe bars can actually look really good, especially if you only have two categories.

If you have more than two, it can become a little too colorful. Depending on how you keep you know, there’s ways you can look at formatting of those colors and choosing columns wisely. I have a article about that also coming up, so I’m going to talk more about how you can visualize with stacked bars, so in this again kind of the same concept and what I forgot to do here, I’m going to do it right now is to point Which color is what conversion so I’m going to use a text box I’m going to choose, although it’s sitting on top of it, I will still try and use the same color as the bar.

The color of the bar yes, and I’m going to can choose the colour of the border and hold it in this case. You can go all the way down and include these on top of each one kind of again, depending really on how you want to build your visual. I think I’m going to leave it like that. I think that’s pretty straightforward and easy to understand what we’re talking about for the rest of the chart, so I’m going to leave those right here and only appearing at the top.

So I hope this was useful and gave you some good ideas on how to approach data visualization for this. These two basic chart types that I find myself using very very often, and they come really handy when you load in a digital marketing, company, dashboard or website performance dashboard. I have a few articles coming up that I’m going to talk about more about the stag bar charts and how you can approach this.

If you have multiple categories more than two, how you can visualize how you know how you can avoid? Rather, a line chart that uses more than three categories so that you can avoid the tangling in the clutter of so many chart, charts and lines. Sorry whines. Well, I hope this was useful and thank you for reading and also join me. The next few weeks as I’ll, be publishing more articles on how you can tell a story with data using Excel.


 

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