Top 5 Tools for Data Visualization
Data is your business’s ultimate source of truth. It’s no longer enough for the data scientists and immediate stakeholders to be the only ones with access to that truth. Access to high-quality, easy-to-understand data empowers employees at all company levels to make better business decisions. Leveraging your data visualization skills can be a key differentiator for your software both in terms of building business value and market adoption.
We compared the top 5 data visualization tools across several key areas to help you make the best decision for your business.
Tableau offers several options for building data visualization solutions, including a desktop app, a browser-based web app, and a free public option. Under the hood, Tableau uses the proprietary language VizQL to transform SQL queries into visualizations
- High-quality, interactive visualizations, including maps, charts, scatter plots, and geospatial data.
- Supports a number of sources, including Excel, PDF, CSV, Google Analytics, and Salesforce.
- Fully customizable dashboards are easy to set up.
- Lacks the machine learning capabilities of Looker bundled with BigQuery.
- Price: the primary tier is about $70 per user per month
Tableau is a feature-rich data visualization tool best suited for communicating large datasets to non-data people. It is less powerful as an exploratory or analytical tool.
Looker is a browser-based data analytics platform that uses a bespoke data modeling language—LookML—to describe dimensions, aggregates, and other data relationships in a SQL database.
- Runs in the browser (platform agnostic.)
- Querying with LookML is fast and easy, especially if you already have some facility with SQL
- Integrates with Github to manage version control and collaboration (and you don’t need to understand Git to use it.)
- Query optimization can be a headache, as there are no in-memory cubes
- Compared to Tableau or Power BI, it is somewhat feature-limited
- Price: custom pricing based on your needs. Up to $80,000 per year has been reported by some clients.
Looker is ideal for a company that has SQL-proficient data analysts on their marketing and product teams. If your company has a dedicated BI or data team, Tableau or Power BI might be more your speed.
Microsoft Power BI is a data visualization and analytics tool that uses DAX and M under the hood. The main product is a desktop app that runs on Windows
- Seamlessly integrates with Microsoft tools, and provides APIs to connect to Google Analytics and Salesforce.
- Supports many data sources, including flat files, Azure Cloud Platform, OData, SAP HANA, and others.
- Natural language querying allows users to type questions and get data visualizations as answers.
- Price: the primary tier starts at $13 per user per month
- Power BI desktop is only compatible with Windows, though there is a Power BI app for Android and iPhone
- The interface is not as user-friendly as other options on this list.
Power BI is best-suited for companies that are already running windows, or for stakeholders who want an intuitive dashboard for creating custom data reports
Domo Business Cloud is a low-code data platform that allows you to create data visualizations and build intelligent data apps. It facilitates queries via SQL and Redshift and provides a drag and drop interface called MagicETL.
- Data extraction is faster and easier than with Tableau, and visualizations are of higher quality.
- MagicETL is powerful, intuitive, and easy to use for non-SQL savvy employees.
- The cloud-based platform easily integrates with cloud-based data warehouses like Redshift and Snowflake.
- Data connection options can be difficult to use.
- On the expensive end. Prices are not listed but have been reported to be around $83 per user per month.
Domo offers a better experience than either Tableau or Looker when it comes to data extraction and visualization, and also provides the ability to transform data into intelligent, interactive apps.
Excel Power Query allows you to import external data and then manipulate that data within an Excel spreadsheet. It is not a full-fledged data visualization tool.
- Requires no coding or knowledge of SQL.
- Supports multiple data sources.
- Can be used in tandem with Power BI to perform ETL transformation.
- On its own, it will not create beautiful data visualizations or support machine learning or natural language querying.
Excel is likely something that your business is already using. Excel Power Query can be an effective tool for ETL transformation and can be used in support of the other tools on this list.
We hope you found this list useful. Remember, ultimately, your data visualization needs will be driven by your company’s size, existing infrastructure, analytics or marketing needs, and the intended audience for your data visualizations. In addition to selecting the right tools, applying smart data visualization techniques is also a key factor for success.