World Class Visualization
Following on from our section on Analytics we understand the value of providing useful information that can be interpreted by the various end users of the system. For example a site manager has a different use for the data than a head office pricing analyst. When wanting to visualise your pricing data you could use the full range of charts available in Excel but we've taken that a step further with the ability to embed more functional in-cell charts and allowing you to analyse large amounts of data graphically using either small multiples or maps.
Small multiples is a term used to describe a series of similar graphics or charts allowing them to be easily compared. The graphics could, for instance, be maps. The term was popularized by Edward Tufte. A typical use of these is to compare price difference to volume across different time periods - below both months but also days of week.
The right chart for the right purpose
As you look through the FuelsPricing.com suite you'll notice a distinct absence of 3D charts, pie charts and overly complex & clever diagrams purporting to show you insights into your data. The challenge is to take the complex and present it in a simple manner highlighting data that needs highlighting and allowing you to get to the underlying data to find out the root causes.
A good read would be Stephen Fews blogs where in one example he shows how a simple bar chart can show scale much more efficiently than the trendy bubble charts. He continues on to explain that the correct chart should be used for the correct purpose - this is something we believe in.
If you're tasked with managing performance you will need a dashboard and reports that give you the information you need, quickly, clearly and efficiently. Having a fuel gauge taking up half your screen might seem a relevant image to display your stock level but all its really displaying is a single number. We'd suggest adding in some trend data, comparative data (vs. previous comparable periods) other useful information e.g. supply price trend (is the price rising and your stock low - should you buy now?). We've typically used a combination of data, in-cell charts and large charts to display this type of data.