As architects and urban designers, you must have come across situations where you had to present data and make a compelling story around it. Often, the dataset is large, multi-layered, complex and difficult to visualize, let alone understand. In other cases, you just want to present a simple dataset in a visually pleasing manner that complements the overall look and feel of your presentation. But you are stuck with Excel and you know it is not an ideal choice for either of these situations.
You wonder, are there any other tools that can produce a clean and engaging visualization for all your data? Will it be time-consuming? Will it have a steep learning curve?
Fortunately, there are many amazing tools out there. All you need to do is pick the right tool that suits your needs and keep moving. But there are so many that it’s hard to find the right tool for your project.
The 7 Best Tools for Data Visualization
We have made everything easy for you and prepared a list of 7 best data visualization tools for architects and urban designers that requires zero coding knowledge.
Want to know the best part? They are all web-based and free to use.
Infogram creates interactive charts and infographics. Free for up to 10 charts.
ChartBlocks create simple charts in minutes. Free for up to 30 charts.
Raw visualizes complex data in vector format. Free forever.
Datamatic quickly creates a wide variety of charts. Free for up to 10 visualizations.
Silk creates interactive stories with datasets. Free for up to 1000 data cards.
Datahero rapidly visualizes data from various sources. Free for unlimited charts.
Quadrigram combines texts, images, and interactive visualizations to bring data to life. Free for up to 12 visualizations
Best for creating interactive charts and infographics.
17 chart types including Bar, Column, Pie, Line, Scatter, Bubble, Hierarchy, Multiple Axes, Area, Bubble, Wordcloud, Treemap and many more.
Infogram enables you to quickly create both charts and infographics online. It comes with a simple interface and its charts are well designed. There are over 35 different charts and 200+ maps that makes it easy and flexible to present your data in an interactive web interface. You can edit data directly in the light-weight data editor or connect to a data source in the cloud, or alternatively upload your own spreadsheet too.
You can weave your own story by creating an engaging infographic using one among many templates, and personalize them with additional visualization like charts, maps, images and also videos. This chart explaining Energy Distribution in Food Production will give you an idea of what is possible in Infogram.
Infogr.am Pricing: Free for up to 10 charts; pro features from $25/month
Best for creating simple charts in minutes.
5 chart types including Column, Line, Area, Scatter and Pie chart.
ChartBlocks is an online chart builder tool that allows you can import data from anywhere in a few clicks and build basic charts very quickly. The interface gives you control over every aspect of your chart; from colors, sizes and fonts to adding grids and changing the number ticks on your axes. After you have made the chart, you can either export it via SVG or PNG, embed it in your website or share it on social media.
Though it has a limited number of chart types, most of the common chart types are covered. They are also building an interesting feature that will allow you to plug in live data feeds. You can have a look at this chart to understand what can be done in ChartBlocks.
ChartBlocks Pricing: Free for up to 30 charts; pro features from $8/month
Best for visualizing complex data in vector format.
16 chart types including Alluvial Diagram, Bump, Circle Packing, Cicular Dendrogram, Parallel Coordinates, Delaunay Triangulation, Hexagonal Binning, Scatter Plot, Tree Map, Voronoi Tessellation and many more.
Raw is built on top of D3.js and is extremely well designed. It has a super intuitive interface and is dead simple to use. It is open-source and therefore doesn’t require you to sign-up to their service. It is one of the few tools that allows you to download your visualization in vector format that is easily editable with Adobe Illustrator, Sketch or Inkscape.
It has a library of 16 unique chart types (not come across these chart types in any other online tool) to choose from and all the processing is done in the browser. Your data is not stored anywhere in the cloud, therefore no one can see, touch or copy your data! So your data is safe.
Raw Pricing: Free forever
Best for quickly creating a wide variety of charts.
40+ chart types including Bar, Column, Line, Pie chart, Area, Treemap, Venn, Funnel, Rose etc.
If you are looking to create a wide variety of charts quickly, Datamatic is for you. It has a simple 3 step proces and produces effective interactive graphics. You can choose from over 40 chart types and can upload the data from your spreadsheet or paste it directly into the data field. Datamatic also enables you to have complete control over the look and feel of the visualization and heaps of other settings.
You can have a look at what other users have created in this gallery.
Datamatic Pricing: Free for 10 visualizationss; pro features from $9/month
Best for creating interactive stories with datasets.
Chart types like Bar, Column, Line, Pie, Maps etc.
Silk lets anyone create interactive data visualizations, publish websites, and tell interactive stories. By that, it combines blogging, data visualization and story-telling. A ‘Silk’ lets you add structure to your information and gives you many ways to filter and visualize your content.
This is, of course, not a serious Data Analysis platform, but is a fun, quick, and social data visualization tool. It is ideally suited to convey your story through structured data. It helps reiterate certain facets of data exploration that would have otherwise been overlooked if it were not for the story-telling part. Have a look at the this analysis of all the Bengali movies that released in 2015.
Silk Pricing: Free for up to 1000 datacards; premium features from $500/month
Best for rapidly visualizing data from various sources.
Chart types like Bar, Column, Line, Pie, Area, Maps etc.
Datahero appeals to the novice user. It is in contrast to advanced platforms such as Tableau, which requires a deeper understanding of data analytics. Of course, with more complexity comes more options in what is possible to do. But for most of us, we just need to get the work done.
You can simply drag and drop a CSV file into the browser to get started. Once your dataset is ready, it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping values into the canvas area to create a chart. Datahero will then generate the chart it thinks is best suited for your data. Here is a list of all the connectors from where you can import and analyze your data in a single click.
Datahero Pricing: Free for unlimited charts; premium features from $59/month
Best for combining texts, images and interactive visualizations to bring your data to life.
A wide variety of Visualization including Bar, Column, Line, Area, Maps, Quadrification, Animated Maps, Graph Network etc.
If you are looking to create an awesome story around a topic backed by a lot of data, Quadrigram is perhaps the best tool for you. The visualization capabilities of Quadrigram are diverse and highly insightful. You can even connect visualizers and synchronize two charts just by using the output data element of the first chart as the input data element of the second chart.
It also has a killer feature in creating Animated Maps that allows user to showcase data using a heat map visualizer and an animator control. Here is a beautiful story about History of Earthquakes where you can see the animated map in action.
Quadrigram Pricing: Free for up to 12 visualizations; pro features from $22/month
Now it’s your turn
I just presented you with the best web-based Data visualization tools out there for architects and urban designers. There are other good web-based tools that didn't make the list like Chartlr, Plot.ly, DataSeed etc. because they are not entirely free.
All these tools are here at your disposal. Go ahead and make your presentation smarter and impress your clients with an interactive visualization.
Do you have a favorite data visualization app that didn’t make the list, or a favorite trick that makes one of these tools even better? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!