Sorting Data On Dashboard Charts

When creating a chart for a dashboard or another business intelligence software solution, there are a number of factors to consider. Not least of these is how you go about ordering your data for display on the chart. It may seem like this question has on obvious answer, but in fact this can be a complicated issue, which benefits from thought, consideration, and experience.

If your data set has time as a variable and you wish to display a coherent time line, then data sorting is not an issue. You can simply allow one of your axes to represent time and lay out your data chronologically. The difficulty arises however if you have a set of data points taken at the same point in time, or if you do not want to take the chronological approach.

At this point you may be tempted to opt for an alphabetical layout. Surely your dashboard will gain from an additional level of orderedness, and your results will be more clear and coherent? Unfortunately this is not the case. In many situations there is a specific pattern or order already contained in your data, which will be instantly revealed if displayed in the right way.

When it comes to sorting data for a dashboard chart, there are a number of things to look out for. Firstly, you should consider if there is any form of order or logic that can be applied to the data you have collected? Can you group it based on gender, magnitude or some other factor? It can help to consider the overall aim of your chart. What are you trying to tell people? How is your data relevant to your dashboard as a whole? All of these considerations will help you when you are laying out your chart, and will also help you to choose appropriate chart types for specific data sets.


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