We’re humans. And we’re drawn to colors and patterns. Unless, of course, you’re an AI tool that has taken over the world and is currently reading this article.
If that’s the case, I’m sorry. I take it back. But let’s be real; AI takes over the world? Never going to happen.. Or can it?
But in all seriousness, our brains have always been fascinated by colors and patterns – whether it was the cave walls flooded with crude drawings by our ancestors or the fancy dashboards we see in our everyday lives.
You don’t want to have a staring contest with a spreadsheet full of data. You want a tool that helps you make sense of data – and I’m not just talking about a platform that helps you efficiently filter and group data for better analysis but also helps you visualize it.
Since you’re reading this article, I assume you don’t want to invest in a paid data visualization tool (at least for now) and are looking for free options.
Look no further! I’ve got you covered.
Throughout this post, I will review five of the best free data visualization tools you can use to visualize and make sense of your data in real-time. But before we go ahead and look at these tools, it’s important to pre-process your data and prepare it for visualization.
What if you have a dataset comprising data from 2010-2020 yet want to visualize data entries only from 2019? Or maybe the data is in 100 different files? Or what if you want to arrange it for better analysis and visualization?
Luckily, Gigasheet allows you to preprocess your spreadsheet data. And it doesn’t matter if your spreadsheet has millions or billions of rows; Gigasheet supports gigantic datasets, unlike Excel or other spreadsheet software.
Gigasheet is a big data cloud spreadsheet platform that supports spreadsheets with billions of rows. No matter how big your file is, you can easily open huge CSVs online and explore data without any technical challenges, including filtering, grouping, enrichment, and visualization options to make sense of your data.
You can also merge csv files online with the click of a button to create a single file to visualize. No code is necessary. Follow the link above to see how painless data preprocessing step can be!
Last week, I wrote an article where I visualized a dummy website analytics dataset. I’ll be using the same dataset in this post – not just to show how you can visualize it inside Gigasheet, but also to evaluate the top 5 free data visualization tools mentioned in this post. You can access the dataset inside Gigasheet here.
This data comprises information about a website that attracted traffic from different sources. For every single source, we have the revenue, users, new users, year, and several other metrics with us.
Let’s say I want to visualize website traffic from 2019. In that case, I can get rid of 2020 data by applying a filter like this -
On the other hand, if I want to arrange my data better for better analysis, I can just group them by a column.
You can also use Gigasheet’s wide range of functionalities to get your data ready before it’s ready for visualization:
Data Cleanup Functionalities:
And did we tell you that you can use Gigasheet for basic data visualization?
I’ll be honest with you here.
While Gigasheet does an excellent job at helping users play around with spreadsheets, data visualization is not our platform’s strongest area. Hence, we recommend using platforms like Tableau Public and Databox.
But before you use these data visualization platforms, I highly recommend preprocessing the data with Gigasheet. Once you’re done narrowing it down, you can export it from File -> Export.
Now, let me put the five best data visualization tools in front of you.
Here are the top free data visualization tools that I will be reviewing:
4. Looker Studio, Formerly Google Data Studio
I’ve been following Databox’s CEO Peter Caputa, and Director of Marketing John Bonini on LinkedIn for months. I enjoy their daily dose of knowledge.
However, it wasn’t until today, I decided to try out Databox.
A fellow freelancer in my network whispered in my earphones during a Slack Hurdle, “Hey, buddy! Why don’t you add Databox to your list? The incredible platform offers so much value to its users.”
So, I signed up. And I’m glad I did. The platform is truly outstanding!
Databox, simply put, is an advanced business analytics platform that helps companies track their performance under one roof. It offers over 70+ integration options – so whether you want to load data from Google Sheets or Facebook, Databox allows you to import your data in no time.
They have a two-minute forty-eight-seconds video (after you sign up) to quickly get you up to speed and help you create your first Databoard.
I created my first Databoard and loaded my Web Analytics spreadsheet by connecting Google Sheets as a source.
Now, Databox will ask you to verify your data – this means, you need to select the value, dimension (optional), and date. And you need to describe your first metric.
However, I preferred the manual setup for myself -
Since I want to measure my sources against the number of users attracted from that particular source, my manual setup looked like this –
In no time, Databox generated a visually appealing Bar graph for me in the right-hand corner –
Want to generate a Pie Chart? You can do that as well. Later, you can save this metric to your Databoard along with other metrics.
Databox is one of the best data visualization platforms with over 70+ integrations. It’s free to use – their free version comes with –
However, if you’re looking to add more users, or want to create more Databoards, you’ll have to upgrade to one of their paid plans, depending on your needs.
Want to crunch big numbers and intelligently visualize them? Microsoft Power BI’s your guy.
The first time I used Microsoft Power BI - I was just blown away.
The platform makes it so easy to visualize your data.
Microsoft Power BI’s free plan allows users to connect with more than 70 data sources and create rich and interactive reports at the tip of their fingers.
As soon as I uploaded my website analytics dataset to Power BI, and clicked on “Create a Report,” the platform automatically pre-selected relevant data (the power of AI) and generated interactive charts. And trust me, I couldn’t resist but fall in love with these charts. The platform gave me the ability to generate different types of charts like bar chart, column chart, pie chart, tree map, area chart, etc.
If these charts are not enough, you can purchase additional visuals from their marketplace.
What about the quality of the charts?
Not only are charts generated by Microsoft Power BI visually appealing, but they are also highly detailed.
You can format your visuals as per your needs. From the fields section, you can select the columns you want to create visuals around. Let’s try generating a chart to understand which sources helped the store attract the most traffic. In the fields section, I unchecked everything except Source and Users.
And the platform didn’t take even a single second to generate the charts for me:
Another thing that impressed me is - Microsoft Power BI allows users to me to create different types of visuals around different fields and display them on a single dashboard.
Microsoft Power BI is a powerful visualization tool. However, the free plan has its limitations. But you can only do so much with the free version. The free plan has its limits.
Want to share your reports with others? Or want to visualize large datasets? You’ll have to switch to Power BI’s Pro or Premium plan.
Just like I didn’t try out Databox prior to writing this piece, I hadn’t used Visualize Free as well. The best thing about the platform – it’s so simple to use.
All you need to do is sign up, confirm your registration, and upload your spreadsheet. Once you perform these steps, you can start working your magic.
As simple as that!
You just need to select the columns you’d like to visualize. Again, I wanted to find out what source attracted the most traffic. So, all I had to do in Visualize Free was check the column groups that I wanted to visualize like this –
Visualize Free is easy to use. And trust me on this one; it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.
All I had to do was upload my spreadsheet the platform took care of the rest. You can also make your visualization shareable by sharing the URL with whomever you want to.
And the best part is – they don’t even need to register.
Last but not least, ladies and gentlemen, putting in front of you Looker Studio – a browser-based analytics + visualization platform. The platform allows you to create reports and dashboards that you can share publicly.
All you need is a Google account to access Looker Studio. And it’s free to use. You can connect a variety of data sources. The platform provides users with basic chart templates as a starting point.
And since it’s a Google product, it integrates excellently with Google’s other products like Google Sheets and Analytics.
Ryan Prior, Head of Marketing at Modash, uses Looker Studio for internal SEO and content reporting. When asked what he loved the most about Looker Studio, he mentioned –
In one of his articles, he dives deeper and mentions how he has been using Looker Studio to build separate charts for brand and non-brand data.
However, a big downside is that the charts generated by Looker Studio feel basic, and the platform is not as intuitive as other platforms in this list.
I performed the same operation as I did above – and generated the following chart -
Similarly, you can generate different types of visuals with Google Data Studio -
Want to convert your unstructured data into logical information? Tableau Public is your tool. It’s easy to use and mobile-friendly.
But there’s a catch.
There’s a reason behind the word ‘public’ in Tableau Public’s name. All data you publish on the platform will be publicly available. And yes, there’s no security and protection Tableau Public offers. So, it’s a matter of data security.
Also, other limitations are you can’t save your workbook locally. The free version comes with its limits in terms of data size and records inside your spreadsheet. While there are a lot of community and training resources, contacting Tableau Support (if you’re using the free version) is not an option.
Oh – and yes, you can either use their web application or just download the Tableau Desktop Public Edition (available for both Windows & Mac). They also have a mobile application available.
Want to learn about their system requirements? Click here to learn more.
Enough said, let me load the same spreadsheet inside Tableau Public (I’m using the Web Application).
Once you register, it’s easy to access Tableau Public. Using the platform is straightforward. All you need to do is upload your data source, and once you do, you can start playing around.
Depending on how you want to visualize your data and what you want to achieve, you can add respective column groups as rows and columns.
I performed the same operation as above. To find out what the five biggest sources of traffic were, I dragged and dropped Source/Medium in the Rows section and Sum (Users) in the Columns section like this –
Here are the results –
Tableau Public automatically generated a bar graph. But as I was looking to generate other charts, I struggled.
I wanted to generate a pie chart. But this is what Tableau Public gave me.
Another big problem I faced – I wanted to narrow down my data and later visualize it – which wasn’t an option for me with Tableau Public. To access more features like data filtering, you’ll have to get your hands on the paid version.
Apart from data visualization, different tools in our list serve different purposes.
Thus it's really hard to say which one is the Best. You have to decide which one is the best for you based on your use case. Hopefully this blog gave you enough information to make that decision, and saves you time getting started!
I can definitively say this though: if you want to preprocess your data before you visualize it, Gigasheet offers free powerful features to get the job done, like data filtering, grouping, and enrichment. And if you want to enrich your data, Gigasheet has you covered with Geo IP lookups and email validation tools.
I highly recommend trying out Gigasheet. It’s free forever.
Click here to sign up!