How well do you really understand the overall health of your business?
If you’re not sure how to answer that question, you’re not alone. Many businesses don’t have a clear picture of their business’s performance, although they have an unprecedented amount of information to use.
But if it’s not a lack of data, then why’s there so much uncertainty?
The truth is, all that data is completely useless if you don’t have a way to turn it into something useful and easy to understand.
Enter… data visualization.
The best data visualization tools help you turn any number of data points into something that makes sense. So, rather than a bunch of numbers, you have a clear vision of what those numbers mean.
In this article, I cover my top choices for different situations, when you should invest in a data visualization tool, and the methodology I used to find the best options.
Let’s get started!
The Best Data Visualization Tools to Consider:
- Zoho Analytics – The best overall data visualization tool
- Tableau – Best advanced, feature-rich data visualization software
- Cluvio – Best for small businesses and startups
- Sisense – Best for data engineers and developers
- Whatagraph – Best data visualization tool for agencies
- Datawrapper – Best for interactive charts and maps
- Infogram – Best DIY drag-and-drop visualization builder
#1 – Zoho Analytics — The Best Overall Data Visualization Tool
If you’re looking for a data visualization tool for business intelligence, Zoho Analytics is the best option for most businesses. It’s easy to use and built for non-technical users.
Over 500,000+ companies, including some big names like HP and Ikea, use Zoho to understand the health of their businesses and forecast trends in the future.
Furthermore, you can import and blend data from virtually any source, including databases, cloud storage, websites, and other business applications you use to power your business.
Source: Zoho Analytics
Their drag-and-drop design interface makes it easy to customize charts, pivot tables, widgets, reports, and even tabular views to quickly get a clear picture of the data you’re after.
You have five plans to choose from, including:
- Free forever — 2 users with limited features
- Basic — 2 users for $22 per month
- Standard — 5 users for $45 per month
- Premium — 15 users for $112 per month
- Enterprise — 50 users for $445 per month
You can try Zoho out for free with their limited free forever plan and upgrade to a basic plan when you’re ready. Or you can upgrade further to unlock more advanced features.
Zoho Analytics’ basic plan ($22/month) is full of powerful features like:
- Unlimited reports and dashboards
- AI-powered analytics (Ask Zia)
- Complete control over how and where you publish your data
- Daily data synchronization
- Drag-and-drop design tools
- 500+ integrations
Start your risk-free 15-day trial to take Zoho Analytics for a test drive (no credit card required).
#2 – Tableau — The Most Advanced Data Visualization Software
Tableau is an advanced data visualization and management tool capable of handling even the largest of data sets. It’s an excellent choice for large businesses or enterprises with a lot of information to process.
However, it’s more expensive than Zoho (our #1 pick) and is overkill for most general users.
Source: Tableau Online
But if you’re managing data for a large company with a lot of moving parts, you’ll benefit from Tableau’s advanced features, including:
- Charts, infographics, maps, dashboards, and more
- Specialized use-case visualizations like timelines and heat maps
- Dashboard templates to get up and running
- Advanced user roles and permissions
- Ask Data (an AI-powered analytics tool)
- Connections to any data source
- Extensive training materials
Brands like Lenovo, Honeywell, and Verizon trust Tableau to help them make smart, data-driven decisions that save time, boost productivity, and leverage crystal clear business insights.
For large teams, collaboration is critical. With Tableau, you can efficiently work together or share visualizations with anyone in the world in just a few clicks.
Plus, you can choose between several deployment methods to match your specific needs.
Prices start at $70 per user per month and require an annual contract. Which… is steep for most small businesses, so I don’t recommend it unless you’re a large company that needs the advanced features.
Start your free trial to see if Tableau is right for you.
#3 – Cluvio — The Best for SMBs and Startups
Cluvio is one of the lesser-known data visualization tools out there. However, it’s the perfect solution for smaller sized data-driven companies and fast-growth startups interested in understanding their business’s performance.
This tool combines the power of SQL and R programming language to create custom interactive analytic dashboards.
Inside, you can look at real-time data and use a set of custom filters to adjust the data set you’re analyzing at any given time.
On top of that, Cluvio lets you set up custom conditional alerts, so you always know when things change, or the unexpected is happening.
But what really makes Cluvio stand out is their suite of collaboration features. They make sharing dashboards with your team (or customers) a breeze. You can share dashboards via URL and email as well.
Furthermore, you can get started doing all of this within five minutes… for free.
Their free forever plan works for up to three separate dashboards, and you get unlimited viewers at no extra charge.
However, their paid plans are a bit pricey. The cheapest one starts at $279 per month for up to two data analysts. And each plan goes up from there.
Unlock your free 14-day trial to learn more about how Cluvio works.
#4 – Sisense — The Best for Data Engineers and Developers
Sisense takes a different approach to business intelligence than the rest of the tools on this list. Their platform is built specifically for developers and engineers to use within their own custom applications.
So if you’re interested in creating analytic apps and can afford the big-business price tag, this is an excellent enterprise option.
With Sisense, you can embed custom data visualizations anywhere using live and cached data to build optimized analytic applications for your team or someone else’s.
You can use this tool to create interactive dashboards, self-service analytics, or white-label business intelligence apps to suit your specific needs.
Enjoy access to features like:
- Custom UI to deliver branded analytic experiences
- Sample application to test-drive your UI designs
- A dedicated portal for developer content
- Self-service dashboards
- AI data trends
It’s hard to go wrong with a customer base, including those like NBC, Wix, and Rolls Royce. And they’re known for having the best customer service in the industry.
Plus, you can choose between on-premise, cloud-based, Linux/Windows, or a hybrid deployment.
However, pricing isn’t available online since every plan is custom to fit your situation. So head over to their pricing page to request a free quote or browse through their detailed use-case examples.
#5 – Whatagraph — The Best Data Visualization Tool for Marketers
If you’re a marketer or digital marketing agency, Whatagraph is the perfect reporting solution.
They make it easy to send automated performance reports to clients on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, so you don’t have to worry about manually doing it ever again.
Furthermore, you can customize the reports to match your brand. So, you can easily provide a completely white-label experience for clients and customers.
And getting started is a breeze. You can begin in just a few minutes with pre-made report templates. From there, you can upload your own images and customize your reports to match your business.
They currently offer 30+ integrations with social media platforms and other digital marketing tools. Plus, you can request specific integrations if you need one they don’t currently offer.
Whatagraph is an excellent, automated solution to deliver multi-source reports that are easy to read and understand from a non-marketing perspective.
You can try it free for seven days but after that, the price gets pretty steep. So it’s not suitable for smaller agencies or solopreneurs.
But Whatagraph is a smart choice if you’re a larger agency looking to automate your reports.
Their plans include:
- Professional — 1 user, unlimited reports, and 15 data sources for $119/month
- Premium — 5 users, unlimited reports, and 50 data sources for $279/month
- Growth — unlimited users, unlimited reports, and custom data sources for $699/month
Start a 7-day free trial to see if Whatagraph is right for you.
#6 – Datawrapper — The Best for Interactive Charts and Maps
If you’re looking for an easy way to create interactive data visualizations, Datawrapper is smart, especially if you’re a blogger or news publication.
With Datawrapper, you can easily create:
- Interactive maps for anywhere in the world
- Choropleth maps to demonstrate regional patterns
- Symbol maps for showcasing location-specific data
- Locator maps to show specific locations
Each map is interactive, and users can hover over areas they’re interested in learning more about. Furthermore, you can adjust the colors, fonts, text, and more.
They have 1,000+ base maps to choose from. Or you can send in a request for a specific area if it doesn’t already exist.
Then, their map expert will create it for you for free.
But their functionality doesn’t stop at maps. You can also use Datawrapper to create highly interactive charts and tables as well. Essentially you can create any type of map, chart, or table you can imagine.
And the best part? Datawrapper has a free forever plan with unlimited visualizations.
The downside is you can only export in a PNG format, and every visualization includes a Datawrapper attribution at the bottom. But the attribution is small. And I wouldn’t consider it a dealbreaker.
Their paid plan starts at $599 per month. So you’re better off sticking with the free plan unless you want white-label visualizations, and you can justify the steep cost.
Sign up for a free-forever plan to learn more about Datawrapper and see if it’s right for you.
#7 – Infogram — The Best Drag-and-Drop DIY Visualization Builder
Data visualization is great for things aside from business intelligence, as well. Infographics are a great example of this.
Infogram is an intuitive drag-and-drop visualization tool that lets you create interactive infographics, charts, tables, and graphs to share with your audience or team members.
Furthermore, they have an extensive collection of designer templates you can use to create reports or infographics, so you don’t have to start from scratch. And you can customize everything to match your brand.
Plus, Infogram’s visualizations look great regardless of the user’s device.
You also get access to an analytics dashboard to show you how your audience interacts with what you create. This is great to understand what catches their attention and how they use your visualizations.
But their platform goes beyond infographics. You can also create things like:
- Presentations and slide decks
- Interactive maps
- Analytic dashboards
- Social media graphics
- 18 different chart types
Infogram’s free-forever plan includes up to 10 projects with less than five pages each, 37 interactive chart types, interactive maps, and basic animations.
So this is an excellent place to start if you want to try it out for free.
However, their paid plans start at $19 per month. So it’s still very affordable for most businesses. They also have special pricing for startups, non-profits, and educational organizations.
Take Infogram for a free test drive on their free-forever plan.
When it Makes Sense to Invest In a Data Visualization Tool
Your brain processes images and visual data 60,000x faster than text-based data or information. So data visualization tools help you capitalize on how the human brain works.
Data visualization has countless use-cases, including:
- Business intelligence for understanding the health of your business
- Portraying multi-channel marketing campaign data for your clients
- Identifying user behavior patterns to predict future buying trends
- Educating your readers or team members
- Use in social media graphics
Visuals are the fastest and easiest way to portray complex data. So, it makes sense to invest in a data visualization tool if you’re interested in:
- Making smarter and quicker business decisions
- Saving time and improving your business’s productivity
- Studying buying behaviors to improve your bottom line
- Identify bottlenecks and problem areas quickly
- Understanding large volumes of data across multiple channels
- Streamlining your business processes and systems
Odds are, at least one of those is true.
With that said, some of the tools on this list are pricey. So make sure you understand what you need (and what you don’t) before making any decisions. There’s no need to invest in a fancy tool if you don’t need it.
And if you’re on a tight budget, many of them offer free-forever plans. So you can get started, try it out for free, and upgrade to a paid plan when and if you need to.
Methodology For Choosing The Best Data Visualization Tool
Now that you know my top recommendations, it’s time to talk about how I chose these data visualization tools from the thousands of options out there.
You can use the same criteria and methodology to make the right choice for your business, too.
There’s no one-size-fits-all tool that works for every business in every industry. So carefully consider your requirements as you make a final decision.
While the price isn’t the most critical factor, it’s certainly close to the top of the list.
At the end of the day, if a tool is over your budget, it doesn’t make sense to invest. And it’s probably overkill for what you need.
The most expensive tools on this list are explicitly built for enterprise businesses.
So if you’re not an enterprise business dealing with a massive amount of data, go with something closer aligned to your budget and needs.
Remember: you don’t need the fanciest data visualization tool.
You need the right one that isn’t going to break the bank.
Ease of Use
Even the best data visualization tools are a waste if you don’t know how to use them.
And some of the tools on this list are more complicated than others. For example, Sisense is built for developers. Not a developer? It’s going to be difficult (and time-consuming) for you to learn. Plus, it’s overkill for what you need.
Other options feature a drag-and-drop design interface, while the more advanced tools require extensive integrations and minor coding skills.
So think about who’s going to use the tool and the extent of their knowledge. Don’t go for something fancy that nobody knows what to do with. Unless you can afford to spend time and money on extensive training.
There’s a time and place for that.
But if that’s not you, go with what’s practical and easy.
What are you going to use your data visualizations for? If you’re looking to better understand your business’s performance, Zoho Analytics is probably the best choice.
As you can see, the best choice depends on what you hope to do with it.
It may help to make a list of use-cases and requirements for your business. After that, you can sit down with a sales team to make sure the tool’s a good fit for you before making a decision.
Consider what types of visualizations you want to create. Simple embeddable infographics and charts may be more than enough for your business. In that case, you can choose a simple and affordable platform.
However, you may need interactive visualizations, extensive analytic dashboards, or other advanced features.
So it’s crucial to understand your needs before making any decisions.
Data Source Compatibility
Where is your data coming from? Is it directly through a social media platform, a spreadsheet, or a live website? Furthermore, do you need live updates as more data comes in?
These are all important things to consider. The simpler options here have fewer integrations and may require manual data input. Which… obviously doesn’t work for specific types of visualizations.
So, make sure you can connect all the data sources you use. If they don’t offer the integrations you need, consider using API connections or choosing a different tool.
Data visualization tools are a powerful way to transform data points into usable information. However, many of these tools have too many features and are too expensive for most situations.
So carefully consider your use-cases and budget when making your final decision.
For most users, I highly recommend Zoho Analytics. You can get started for free, and their paid plans are affordable, even for the smallest businesses. Plus, it’s easy to use.
But if Zoho isn’t quite what you need, you can use the method outlined here to find the right tool for you and your specific situation.