Sparklines for Visualization of Trends

Sparklines (word-sized minicharts, stripped from any Axis) provide a pure Visualization of Trends (in minicharts below: the Number of Visitors to each webpage, the Stickiness, Length and Depth of Visits for each particular landing webpage). The Sparkline has no scale (relative to other Sparkline) and as a result, showing pure trends in a very compressed form. Sparklines monitor trends and report them as they occur.

By placing the information in a grid of rows, this Trellis of information about website visitors is making it easy to spot overall trends for the web site, specific trends for each individual page, and relationship between pages from visitors point of view.

Practical Computer Applications (PCA) can help you select the right tools to analyze your datasets to identify trends in your data and deviation from expected behavior.  Sparklines is one of many tools available to help you visualize trends in your time series. We will work with you to identify best application design and tools needed monitor trends and report them as they occur.  Contact us to discuss your needs.

Edward Tufte’s book Beautiful Evidence described (also other people applied for patent) the Sparkline minicharts. Each Sparkline is a basically word-sized graphic with typographic resolution, stripped from any Axis, so it has no scales, just trends in a very compressed form. Each single Sparkline has one (hidden, with no scale, relative to itself only) measure and one (hidden, with no scale) timeline. Due their small size, multiple Sparklines can be fit on one screen or page, so a set of Sparklines can be used as a 3-dimensional chart with one measure, one attribute (e.g. above is a name of web page) and one timeline, used as a  parameter for a Time Series.

Sparklines are now widely available thanks to Excel 2010. The above Sparkline was done with Qlikview, but other Data Visualization vendors support them too. Below you can see the trends (for last 130 years for four countries: USA, UK, France and Netherlands) for Personal Income, Life Expectancy and Fertility visualized with Google Sparklines:

PCA can help you determine the best back end and front end tools for your data and applications. Contact us directly at 617-527-4722 or visit the contact us page.

See additional data visualization demonstrations.