Top 6 Free Data Visualization Tools

Quick Summary
  • Data Visualization has emerged as one of the most critical tools for both simple and complex corporate structures.
  • Visualizing data can be a major challenge due to the sheer volume and complexity of the information.
  • Tableau Public, Microsoft Power BI, Google Data Studio, Openheatmap, DataWrapper, and Leaflet are considered the leading Data Visualization and analytics tools currently available, with excellent mobile capabilities.
  • Power BI can take your reporting to the next level. You can review your most critical data at first sight.
  • Google Data Studio gives users the option to work with multiple views of data.
  • With Openheatmap, you can share your story with others.
  • Coding gives you a chance to design and customize the graphs you create

Data Visualization has emerged as one of the most critical tools for both simple and complex corporate structures and plays a key role in success in business today.

It is a field of Data Science that handles the visual representation of the most complicated datasets. Visualizing data is a major challenge due to the colossal volume of information available – and the need to present it in a meaningful way.

It is surprising to discover that around 2.5 Quintilian bytes of data are generated across the globe on a daily basis. In simpler terms, 600 Wikipedia pages created every minute.

Unimaginable, isn’t it? It is difficult for businesses to manage, interpret and visualize such huge volumes of data, yet extract information which is relevant and crucial.

How could your business ever manage such a massive volume of data?

The answer lies in the field of data science. Data science is about more than analyzing data; it is about finding the meaning of the information. Conventional analytics can only get you so far. Data Visualization solves this problem by presenting the data in easy to understand, customizable graphs.

Today, there are a variety of tools available from Tableau, Google Data Studio, and Power BI. There is an ever-growing list of free Data Visualization tools, designed to help the professional data scientist in the visualizing of information and the discovery of messages in the data.

Read Full Article to get the Answers Of:

  • Which Data Visualization tool is the one for your business?
  • Which tool can create engaging and useful reports for you?
  • Can you use any of these tools for free – and without expert knowledge?

List of Data Visualization Tools– Details and Summaries

#1 Tableau Public

If you want a simple business intelligence tool for your desktop, Tableau tops the chart. It’s by far the simplest and the best Data Visualization tool that you can use, no coding required.

Tableau is one of the fastest evolving Business Intelligence (BI) and Data Visualization tools. Tableau turns Data Visualization into an interactive and shareable dashboard that is simple to use. With the help of Tableau Public, you can picture the latest trends, changes, and data density with the help of graphs and charts.

Tableau was founded in January 2003 by Chris Christian. The idea was first mentioned in an academic paper way back in 2002 – to design a special tool that allows users to visualize data in a simple way. Many doubted the need for the new Data Visualization tool when Excel already allowed us to create bars, tables, and pie charts. Why did Tableau succeed?

Infographic Tableau Public - Data visualization tool

Tableau has emerged as one of the most effective and fastest advancing Business Intelligence and Data Visualization tools.

Gartner considers Tableau to be the gold standard for intuitive interactive visual analysis, and an established Enterprise platform. You can represent your data in any way that you want, from static visuals to interactive resource delivery.

You can tweak the graphics, you can play around with them, and you can select from different charts. The tool also has exceptionally good production dynamics. It only takes only a few seconds for you to graph the visualizations. Tableau remains the top interactive tool.

Installation link: https://public.tableau.com/en-us/s/download

Tableau Public & Key Features

Tableau Public is probably the best Data Visualization tool available because it allows users to create awesome visualizations without having to know how to code. The key feature of Tableau Public is that it allows users to easily connect to several databases.

The tool has the power to transform your data into interactive dashboards, with the ease of dragging and dropping the fields. Additionally, Tableau Public enables users to share visual images online, so that other users can download that information easily.

Tableau Public is the same version of Tableau, but without the subscription, Tableau Public does not provide the privacy you receive with the paid version. Everything you create with this tool is available for public review and is automatically available on the web.

Compared to Microsoft Excel, Tableau is a fast, easy-to-use tool for making visual charts and telling interactive stories on the web. The tool is great at building visualizations and is an ideal assistant for any kind of business that collects data to help making business decisions.

Tableau has managed to stay in Gartner’s magic quadrant for years now and is respected as the top interactive BI tool.

The application software includes,

  • Real-time collaboration and data mixing.
  • Permits distribution for interactive charts.
  • Includes shareable dashboards.
  • Ability to forecast trends and changes in the data.
  • Ability to represent data density in charts and graphs.

The iconographic below will help you analyze these features in brief:

Infographic Tableau Public features - Data visualization tool

Benefits of Tableau include,

  • A pioneer in Data Visualization and analytics.
  • Flexible Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Easy to use and learn.
  • No coding experience necessary.
  • Easy to integrate with other data analytic tools.
  • Provides a solid cloud presence.
  • Free software for interactive Data Visualizations.
  • Tableau Public allows you to easily input your data by dragging and dropping fields into the view.
  • Tableau Public allows sharing visualizations online.
  • Has a great mapping capability.
  • Besides Tableau Public, other offerings are Tableau Server, Tableau Desktop, Tableau Online and Tableau Reader.

Also Read: Top 11 Best Big Data Tools And Software That You Can Use In 2020

These features keep Tableau ahead of other software.

Statistics

More than 300,000 data enthusiasts are reported to use Tableau as a free data storytelling platform for data journalism, public advocacy, and other needs.

Example:

Game of Thrones in Words created with Tableau

Infographic - Game of Thrones in Words created with Tableau Image Source: Toptal

#2 Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is similar to Excel’s desktop BI Data Visualization tool but is far more capable than Excel. It supports the utilization of multiple data sources, the price is reasonable, and it can be used as a separate BI tool. However, there is no way to integrate it into existing systems.

Power BI has several similarities to Excel’s desktop BI tool, but the features and functions of the former are far more effective than the latter.

Power BI enables multiple data sources, yet it remains reasonably priced. The limitation with Power BI l is that it can only be deployed as a separate tool with no scope for integration with existing tools.

Microsoft Power BI is a suite of business analytic tools that help you create and share intuitive reports for business insights. The tool allows you to create and modify Data Visualizations, join data from multiple sources, and build dashboards.

Microsoft Power BI also allows users to successfully import essential data, generating a report with visualization. This Data Visualization tool also allows you to share your data by publishing it to the Power BI service with one click.

With Microsoft Power BI you can extract any kind of information. For example, if you have a lot of reports that you have published, you can find them easily using the search tool. The Power BI interface further allows you to manipulate the reports that you are sharing.

Installing link: http://app.powerbi.com

You can import additional data by pushing the data button. Keep in mind that you can import data from a variety of sources. You also must remember that all your data does not need to be from the same source; Excel spreadsheets, SQL Server data Query, or another data query source are all feasible. You can put them all together in Power BI by creating the relationship, manipulating that data, and then by creating impressive visualizations.

Whenever you are importing queries, make sure that you have all the data that you need. Power BI is smart enough to detect the relationship between the data and join different datasets together. If the Power BI Data Visualization tool fails to recognize a relationship between the data, you can establish that relationship yourself.

Power BI further allows you to sort the data and change the format prior to creating visualizations. You have the option of combining the data into a single canvas page, or you can use multiple pages for unique perspectives on the information.

Microsoft Power BI & Key Features

The tool also allows you to,

  • Join together multiple sets of data.
  • Add extra data sources.
  • Create new and interactive visualizations.
  • Update published reports on the Power BI service.
  • Create a dashboard on the Power BI service.
  • Pin visualizations to a dashboard.
  • Modify the dashboard.
  • Share a dashboard with colleagues, customers, or your business partners.
  • Enable bespoke visualization, modeling, and predictive capabilities for advanced analysis.
  • Make use of cloud-based BI services.

Microsoft Power BI allows you to import data, manipulate it quickly, and then securely share the insight. To get started with the free BI desktop application, download the free application. You can then connect with hundreds to data sources like Excel, Salesforce, Google Analytics, Social Analytics, and even ILT devices. All this data can be converted into live, interactive visuals.

power BI Desktop

Image source: PowerBI

When you have mastered the Free Power BI tool, you can upgrade to the Pro version. With the paid version, you can start collaborating freely. You can connect to different dashboards and deliver a 365-degree view of your business.

You can also control how your data is being distributed, packaged, and used with your colleagues. With the Premium version you can export your content for use in your digital properties across an enterprise.   

Also Read: How To Pick Out Best CRM Software

Power BI is a strong BI Data Visualization tool and is useful in many ways.

Some of the advantages of using Power BI:

  • Simplicity of use.
  • Seamless integration.
  • Absence of memory and speed constraints.
  • Secure publishing of reports.

The main benefits of using the Power BI Data Visualization tool are:

  • Customized dashboard as per the organization requirements.
  • Data can be pulled from as many sources as required.
  • Individual employees and teams can easily edit, view, add comments, and manage versions of dashboards and reports.

Statistics

It has been estimated that Power BI has more than 5 million subscribers – this is the milestone achieved by the Power BI company and it speaks volumes about how highly regarded this is. It has been estimated that data use would reach around 50 zettabytes or more by 2020.

Example:

Power BI - Data Visualization ToolImage source: Bloomberg

#3 Google Data Studio

Have you ever struggled to build dashboards fast?

Remember those sleepless nights when you have been trying to create a visual image, but in vain? I have been in your position, so I understand the pressure of time, output requirements and being able to get a concept across in an easy to understand form.

To cut a long story short, I found Google Data Studio, which is a great solution to represent your data and create powerful reports. This Data visualization tool helps you connect your data and insert it seamlessly into reports. Google Data Studio allows you to create clean and powerful reports and share them amongst your group.

Google Data Studio is a free Data Visualization tool that helps to illustrate your data. At this time, the Dashboard market is fragmented and there are plenty of different solutions. Usually you must choose between heavy BI tools which allow you to do everything, but the licenses can easily cost you US$50k and more.

Simpler solutions can be quite limited and may not cover all your needs. Thankfully, there are easy to use solutions available for your business. Google Data Studio is an example of a great free solution.

This platform allows you to create and share beautiful reports – quickly and effectively. If you run a small or medium sized business, or even a department in a big corporation; this Data Visualization tool is the perfect choice.

Google Data Studio is an interesting tool as it constantly evolves, meaning that there are always new features being integrated. Recently, new formulas have been added to the mix that give you more options. In Data Studio, you can add to your data set with calculated fields and then utilize formula events.

Google Data Studio gives its consumers the option to have multiple views of their data. The tool enables its users to visualize data like charts, graphs, and pies.

The tool can further be integrated into Google Analytics, creating a unique combination of the two. Both Google Data Studio and Google Analytics have free-to-play versions to get you started.

Good Data Studio is part of the Google Marketing Platform and it has an impressive ecosystem of tools.

To get started you have to visit http://datastudio.google.com and sign-in using your Google account.

If this is your first visit, you need to set up Data Studio. Press ‘Get Started’ and agree to the terms and conditions. The tool is available for personal and company use. You can also purchase a subscription. The screenshot below shows the data studio dashboard:

Data Studio gives you a rich selection of styles to make your reports attractive, compelling, and on-brand for your business. The ‘arrange’ menu lets you align components, group them and control how they overlap. To view this report as your colleagues see it, you can click the ‘Edit’ toggle.

This simple report may not look like much yet, but it is live data. You can interact with your data by manipulating the data points. You can also change the date range of the data for clarity and closer focus. There is a lot more you can do with Data Studio besides just visualizing information.

You can download Google Data Studio by visiting the following link: https://datastudio.google.com.

There are few major concepts in Data Studio. They are the Data Source, Connection Report and Explorer.

Data Sources and Reports have many relationships. This means that one report can integrate multiple sources of data. The same data source can be connected to many reports.

Once you introduce a change into one report, the changes will automatically appear in all the connected reports, but It is not that evident from the UX perspective. You can connect information from various platforms like BigQuery, YouTube, Google Analytics, Facebook ads, Spreadsheets, and others.

There are connectors provided by Google, and created by the community, for merging platforms. If you need to create a custom connector, you can either create it yourself or transfer data from storage.

With Data Studio you can easily navigate between Reports, Data Sources and Explorers using the top menu. Google provides a few samples of free dashboards, or you can create your own.

Google Data Studio & Key Features

Since late 2018 Google Data Studio has added new features giving users a chance to create charts, graphs, and other forms of visualization. You can share these images with other users.

Also, Google Data Studio allows to,

  • Connect to your data source.
  • Visualize that data to gain insights.
  • Sharing reports and collaborating with your team.

Main benefits of Google Data studio:

  • With Google Data Studio, you can put many data sources into one place, meaning that you are not just limited to Google Analytics. Instead, you can access many other tools like Google AdWords, different Ads channels, SQL, Search Console, and YouTube Analytics. Plus, you can add tons of different third-party integrations.
  • If you are looking for specific e-commerce or social media type of stats, you can probably find yourself a qualified plugin, or connector.
  • The way you can customize the dashboards is stunning. If you are a newbie and do not know how to use dashboards, you can always learn how to do it using fake dashboards.
  • The tool is convenient when it comes to customizing the Google Data Studio. This feature allows the customers to tailor Google data dashboards to their needs.
  • The cool thing about Google Data Studio is that it allows you to drag and drop elements.
  • You can share it like any Google document. This feature is effective from a time and resource perspective because you do not need to email your reports every month.
  • The greatest thing about Google Data Studio is that everything goes on in real-time, meaning that numbers are always being updated, with live filter modifications.
  • All the elements are easily interact-able, meaning that all the information is interactive and understandable.

Statistics

Data Studio is part of the Google Marketing Platform. Recent integration with Google Cloud allowed Data Studio to easily access data from Google Analytics, Google Ads, Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, YouTube Analytics, Google Sheets, Google BigQuery, and a whole list of other data resources making Data Studio a highly popular Data Visualization tool used by millions of happy customers worldwide.

Nowadays, thousands of companies worldwide, including leading brands, choose Data Studio as their marketing reporting tool.

Example:

Favorite Community-Built Visualizations in Google Data Studio

Favorite Community-Built Visualizations in Google Data Studio Image Source: Amazee Metrics

#4 Openheatmap

Have you ever encountered the situation when you have interesting information, but you need to present it in a more interesting manner than raw spreadsheet data? If yes, Openheatmap is a viable solution. With Openheatmap you can map your data across any geographical area, presenting it in context and giving it a better shape and form of presentation.

The traditional data sources, such as Google Spreadsheets, are used for an interactive, animated view of a geographical area, that can be shared online.  Developers traditionally use a JQuery plugin. This simplifies the process of creating a completely open-source mapping component on any web page. These are created based on either Flash or HTML5’s Canvas element.

Openheatmap is another free visualization tool that allows you to share heatmaps and tell stories with that data. The tool makes it easy to transfer data from Excel files and Google Docs and to produce a heatmap.

All you have to do is to open the Excel file and make sure that your Excel file data has correct names for the columns. Then you go to the website, choose the Excel file, and upload your data. That information is enough for the Openheatmap tool to automatically recognize the information and create a visual map.

With Openheatmap you share your story with other individuals and create the best possible “visual aid” for your audience. This Data Visualization tool allows you to fix your image to the geographical area you want it to examine. It makes it much easier for reader to grasp the trends and tendencies your data represents.

Download Link: www.openheatmap.com

You can also install the link to your website and publish the map to your site with a single click.

Openheatmap Tool - Data Visualization ToolImage Source: Oenheatmap

The Openheatmap tool allows you to share the link and send it to other people. This Data Visualization tool works best with Google Spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel.

Openheatmap & Key Features

You can use your own dataset to create your own Heatmap by following a simple procedure of uploading your own Excel or Google Docs files.

The procedure might seem simplistic, but the results can look great. I recommend that you try out Openheatmap. 

  • It is powerful way of visual storytelling
  • It offers Pure CSS3 popups and controls for easy storytelling
  • Map controls.
  • It suggests image and HTML-based markers.
  • Layers out of the box.
  • Custom map layers and controls.
  • Powerful OOP facilities for extending existing classes.
  • Hardware acceleration.
  • Interactive features.
  • Smart rendering with dynamic clipping and simplification.
  • Modular build system.
  • Zoom and pan animation.
  • Default design for marketers, including popups and map controls.
  • Pinch-zoom on mobile.
  • Performance features.
  • Hotspots indicate the visitors’ behavior instantly.
  • Openheatmap turns your data into a Custom Heat Map.
  • Extremely lightweight.
  • No external dependencies.

Statistics

Created by Pete Warden, OpenHeatMap is a free Data Visualization tool used by tens of thousands of non-technical users every year.

Example:

Openheatmap - Data Visualization Tool

Image Source: Journal Article by Breinholt, J., Porter, M., and Crandall, K., titled “Testing Phylogenetic Hypotheses of the Subgenera of the Freshwater Crayfish Genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae)”. 2012/09/26

Example:

Openheatmap - Data Visualization Tool1Image Source: Journal Article by Breinholt, J., Porter, M., and Crandall, K., titled “Testing Phylogenetic Hypotheses of the Subgenera of the Freshwater Crayfish Genus Cambarus (Decapoda: Cambaridae)”. 2012/09/26

#5 Leaflet

Leaflet is a modern, open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps. It is designed with simplicity, performance, and usability in mind and works efficiently across all major desktop and mobile platforms. Leaflet can be used with many plugins, coming with an easy to use and well-documented API.

Leaflet works efficiently across all the major platforms, straight out of the box. It presents the visualization as an HTML file that can be interpreted by a wide range of browsers. The tool is not suitable for beginners, you must have basic knowledge of JavaScript and HTML.

Leaflet is a JavaScript library where you insert your Data Visualization algorithms. If you are familiar with the command line, or with the application programming interface (API), then this tool is for you.

Leaflet can be extended with a huge number of plugins, this is not common across other Data Visualization tools – however, it requires a basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

The visualization starts by setting up directories. You can then download the project into the map folder. You will need folders for the libraries and others for data. You can download your data in ‘shape’ file format, but you will need to convert this data to QGIS.

Leaflet - Data Visualization Tool1Image Source: Qgis.org

QGIS is a format for encoding a variety of geographic data structures. To do this, you need to download and install QGIS.

QGIS is an open source software that you will use to prepare and view your data.

The first thing that you need to do is to download the ‘Geany’ text editor. You can use other text editors like ‘Notepad’ or ‘Net Beings’.

You must follow certain steps to download your data into a Leaflet library, then download the Leaflet library. You can use the hosted version of the library or you can download the local copy. Downloading the library will give you the opportunity to use the library offline.

Google Maps used to be free, however recently Google has updated its terms of service. Today you need registered credit cards to use the Google Maps API key.

Returning to Leaflet, it allows us to generate data-driven maps using an open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps.

With this tool you must choose the layer of information that you want to display to users. You can switch between layers when you have two parameters.

You can also add different layers to your map. You can further create your own marker and draw demarcation lines, indicators, etc. You have the option of grouping your elements to display them all at one time.

To use this program, you must create different layers of information by adding these layers to your map. The tool uses JavaScript and requires some tech knowledge from the user.

Leaflet & Key Features

  • Leaflet is an Open-Source JS library.
  • Leaflet is mobile-friendly and lightweight at 38Kb.
  • The tool is easily customizable.
  • Simple and easy to use.

Things you can do with Leaflet:

  • Create thematic maps.
  • Provide infographic style visualizations.
  • Standardize the way in which data is displayed.

What are the best things about Leaflet?

  • Layers Out of the Box.
  • Customization Features.
  • Map controls.
  • Interaction Features.
  • Performance Features.

Visual Features:

  • Display maps in non-spherical Mercator projections.
  • Augment map features using chosen plugins from Leaflet plugins repository.

Statistics

Leaflet is an open source JS library for mobile-friendly interactive maps, created by Ukrainian Web Developer Vladimir Agafonkin.

This free Data Visualization tool allows a user to build rich, interactive, and mobile-friendly visualizations of high-volume data with 100,000+ points, just using the power of a browser.

The tool is used by thousands, including media sources such as NPR, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe.

Example:

Leaflet - Data Visualization Tool

 Image Source: Leafletjs

#6 DataWrapper

DataWrapper is a Berlin-based company built by a multinational group of designers, developers, and journalists. The tool is primarily designed for creative writers, bloggers, and journalists. It helps people produce great visuals to accompany their articles.

This Data Visualization tool is also useful for other professionals looking for similar data insights and it provides both free and paid versions.

Website https://www.DataWrapper.de/

DataWrapper is the preferred tool of the journalist. Media professionals are extensively using DataWrapper in their newsrooms. However, its use is not limited. Instead, the tool can be pretty much useful for anybody who wants visualizations to be incorporated into their articles.

This Data Visualization tool helps to create charts and maps. All DataWrapper graphics are responsive and look good both on desktop and on mobile devices without additional work from your side. They also look good on the page where they are going to be printed.

There are different templates or different themes in DataWrapper, helping the designer create effective presentations. The tool has a menu where you can create the different types of charts, graphs, and tables within the program.

All graphics and charts from DataWrapper have a nice user interface, where you can highlight different elements and interactivity, or add specific points to the graphics. You can create doughnut charts and pie charts, amongst others.

The tool allows you to create cartograms, you can also create symbol maps, and simple locator maps. To create locator maps, you have just to create a location and insert them inside your map. You can also create a shaded relief map to develop different and interesting images.

Next are tables. You can use tables to create graphics to explore raw data. You can also use tables to combine several types of graphics together.

DataWrapper has many map features and has a selection of maps included (about a thousand preloaded maps have already been inserted).

The tool provides you with online learning classes, so that is awesome if you are a newbie to building Data Visualizations. DataWrapper also has a special “free zone” stuffed with images that have been created by DataWrapper’s users.

With DataWrapper it is easy to create charts and maps. For example, you can easily design a choropleth, symbol, or a locator map. You are also free to create a chart of your choice, depending upon your data.

Finally, all DataWrapper images are optimized for mobiles, which is important in a modern web data development environment.

DataWrapper & Key Features

The best thing about DataWrapper is that all its charts are:

  • Interactive
  • Responsive
  • Embeddable in your website.
  • No code is required.
  • It works on the web.
  • Customization is possible.
  • It can be integrated with existing CMS.
  • It has a powerful API.
  • The tool is specifically designed for newsroom Data Visualization.
  • It has a free plan, which is a good fit for smaller sites.
  • DataWrapper includes a built-in color blindness checker.
  • DataWrapper enables users to create charts and maps in minutes.

Statistics

Created with the intent to support data-driven journalism, DataWrapper is designed for journalists in newsrooms. The tool has been designed to help users create high-quality charts by following a simple procedure. It has been estimated that the total number of DataWrapper users has reached about 50.000 registered users. The majority are writers and experienced journalists, or people involved in the communication process fields.

Example:

DataWrapper - Data Visualization Tool

Image Source: Toptal

Conclusion

Data Visualization is becoming more and more critical as volumes of data are accumulating. There are several effective tools, discussed here, and there are many more that are in the making. The bottom line is that an individual or an organization must first understand their requirements and budget before analyzing the data.

Google Data Studio provides an excellent introduction to data analytics, but you can begin with Leaflet if you have coding expertise. With Tableau (paid version) and Microsoft BI you can also build rich, fully featured presentations for your colleagues. You need to find the application that best works for you.

Coding gives you a chance to design and customize the graphs, thus arranging your scattered data into a beautifully arranged set of information. The list of free Data Visualization tools discussed in this blog post is not complete, as there are many other awesome tools worth mentioning and considering. I am always searching for more tools to try and discuss that can simplify the visualization process for others.

Author Bio:

Nataly Otair is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience covering tech issues. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was working as a tech expert for Slovenian-based company Introserv.EU, where she negotiated deals and was advising her international clients on server equipment, was closing the deals and solved minor tech issues. Soon Nataly shifted her focus to a freelance style of life and focused merely on blogging and content writing. She is the owner of her own website contentpersona.com where she regularly posts on topics like Marketing Automation, Google trends, and SEO. Follow her on LinkedIn.