Academic and Business Uses for Comparison Charts

From listing similarities and differences between simple objects in primary school to making sense out of trends and other forms of data in the corporate world, who would’ve thought that comparison charts would have a great impact on our present lives?  In practice, comparison charts have shaped the way we make decisions and draw conclusions in the present.

Comparison Charts in the Academic Setting

In the academic setting, comparison charts are already taught to children as early as primary school. Comparison charts are taught in school as the basic way of making out the similarities and differences of two or more ideas or things. It simply started from making use of charts in comparing their ideas and comparing the characters they read in storybooks to making comparisons in science experiments and drawing out wise decisions when involved in school event organizations. As early as kindergarten, young minds are already trained to analyze the similarities and differences of the features or attributes of various things. In school, children are taught that making comparisons is an essential skill that can not only help them further in their studies but can also help them in their personal lives, and soon when they will start building their career trajectory.

Comparison Charts in the Business Setting

Comparison charts are widely used in businesses as one of the ways to keep track of their performance and determine whether there are things that need improvement or not. If you are tasked to conduct a market study and the like, you can encapsulate and present your findings in a chart so your managers and clients can effectively comprehend what you present. No matter how excellent your results were, it will be of no use if it is presented unfavorably and will be perceived poorly by your audience. Comparison charts are also useful if you provide products to your customers. You can use comparison charts upon differentiating the features of your products (feature comparison), and determining what features that makes each product different from the others (feature comparison), comparing prices of various products (cost comparison), and upon giving your customers a clear and comprehensive view of the benefits that people can get from your products.

Types of Charts Used for Comparing

With the continuous existence of big data, it brought about various types of charts that are used in managing various types of data. Among those types are charts that are mainly used for comparing items. Some of these types are briefly discussed below.

Area Charts: This type of chart is used in making comparisons in the stock market business. It especially presents the way the stock market increases and decreases within a certain period. Similar to a line chart, area charts make use of lines, specifically broken lines, that goes up and down as it displays the changes in trends. If you want to present a comparison of how the value of your sales has changed within a span of time, area charts are the best type of chart you can use for this.Bar Charts: Do you want to make a general comparison for your audience? A bar chart is an ideal type to use. You can choose between horizontal charts and vertical charts when drawing comparisons out of various concepts and multiple data sets. If you plan to compare two or more variables that are independent, use a vertical bar graph. If you plan to compare two or more fixed independent variables even if the data you have accumulated both has positive and negative values, you are encouraged to use a horizontal bar graph.Line Charts: Similar to area charts, line charts can also be used upon presenting trends over a time series wherein you can present sales progressions and other statistics relevant to a business organization. Also known as run charts, line charts consists of a line that is drawn in chronological order. Line charts are also one of the best types of charts used in displaying exact values; however, it cannot effectively display the underlying patterns that the said values represent. If you can only present small changes in your data, opt for a line graph instead of a bar graph.Column Charts: Among the types of charts mentioned, column charts are perhaps the most common as it is easy to comprehend, basic, and flexible. If you have data that has a part-to-whole relationship with limited data points, a column chart works best. However, make sure that it won’t get too cluttered with a multitude of categories and add data labels to make it easy to read even if you deal with several categories. When done right, your audience can easily make comparisons of the values of each column since the columns in a column chart would start at zero. Column charts also enable you to see the various changes among dependent variables over a certain period of time and understand these changes effectively.

How to Create a Comparison Chart

Comparison charts are a summary of numerical data presented visually to help people make comparisons better and quicker. Even if there countless times when we were given the task of creating comparison charts before, you can still find yourself asking or browsing the web for the steps on how to create a comparison chart as if it’s still your first time doing so. That said, we provide you with some guidelines and tips that can help you retain the basic things you need to remember upon making a comparison chart.

Make It a Point to Gather Data Before Anything Else

Before you gather data and compare them against each other, ensure that you have already conducted thorough gathering data that enables you to obtain various useful data that will make fair comparisons and make a visual presentation that displays facts that are real and valid. When you gather data first, you can easily compare it within specific and similar standards. It gets confusing for the part of your audience if you don’t have enough data to use.

Determine the Best Visual Design and Style for Your Comparison Chart

As you have seen and read above, there various types of charts. In fact, listed above are just some of the basic and commonly used ones. Of all the types of charts that can be used in comparing, choose the best one that is suitable for the kind of data that you have and in what way you are planning to present it to your audience. If you want to present trends over a time series, then use line charts. If you’re going to analyze two entities out of a statistical finding, a bar graph is what you should opt for.

Create a Scale and Color-Coding System for Your Comparison Chart

For your audience to thoroughly understand what you are trying to present in your comparison chart, it is crucial to always come up with a specific scale in your comparison chart. Without this element, it will be difficult for you to infer vital data into your graph. Apart from the scale, it is also highly relevant to incorporate a color-coding system in your comparison chart to make every single variable unique from the other categories within your comparison chart. You can start by having a different color for each bar that represents a year in your bar chart. With color-coding, reading your comparison chart will be a breeze for you and your audience.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Comparison Charts

As listed above, comparison charts quite a lot of uses in the major aspects of our lives. But along with its usability are its advantages and disadvantages. That is why before you come up with a comparison chart, ensure that you have some ideas as to what it can and cannot do for you. That said, take notes of some of the following advantages and disadvantages of comparison charts discussed below that you should take consideration before starting to create what could be your first comparison chart.

Comparison Charts Give Visual Impact: Comparison charts are visually interesting in general. It can make use of creative infographics that make any complex information a lot easier to take in and comprehend. If you deal with data that are mostly composed of numbers, the use of comparison charts makes it possible for you to present such boring information in a creative way that makes it appealing and interesting in the eyes of your target audience. And if you get to deal with a lot of data, a comparison chart enables you to convey such information to your audience in short, brief, and concise but still interesting to your audience.Comparison Charts Emphasizes Direct Findings: Comparison charts are the best tools you can use should you want to determine the key important details between two different variables. For instance, you want to determine what makes one between two of your similar products. For example, you have cheese-flavored potato chips as your best-selling product and a cheese-flavored corn chips as the least performing product in your store. What makes one outperform the other when both are cheese-flavored? Is it the main ingredient of one chip line that makes it more preferable to your target consumers? Or is it the pricing? With the use of a comparison chart, you can conveniently draw out key findings with ease and make it apparent enough for you and your target audience to comprehend.Comparison Charts Give Direct Emphasis: Depending on the type of comparison chart you choose, it can always help you in emphasizing the crucial findings of your data that will be helpful on the end for your audience. For instance, if the data shows how much your cheese-flavored potato chips earned well within a span of a year compared to your cheese-flavored corn chips, your bar chart can make it evident in the eyes of your audience.Comparison Charts May Not Be Precise Enough: Even with the advantages mentioned above, it cannot be denied that comparison charts are lacking in some areas, such as its precision. Charts, in general, may not present data that is as precise as the raw data it was based upon. This is because, in the act of transferring information to a chart, the information is reduced in order to fit the chart, resulting in a decrease in its specificity. Sure, a bar graph can easily show maybe a great tool to be used when drawing summaries and general comparisons; however, it can only display that one category outweighs another but cannot present the exact numbers that show how one category outweighs the other. This is also because comparison charts make use of a scale.Comparison Charts Can Get Way Too Oversimplified: Comparison charts are indeed instrumental in making ordinary audiences comprehend complex data through simple visual presentation. However, in the process, the data you input gets too oversimplified that it loses its accuracy. It is also because of its simplicity that it already fails to highlight the other important and crucial aspects of your data. 

A lot can be demonstrated using charts, and if you want to attract the attention of your audience while not compromising its comprehensibility, the use of charts can take you a long way. For human beings, a picture is worth a thousand words, especially that most of them are visual learners. And because of this, human brains can easily make sense of complex sets of data through data visualization. Luckily for us, data visualization tools like comparison charts came about and made groundbreaking changes in how to take in various groups of data. Should you want to get a headstart upon making a comparison, consider downloading any of the comparison chart templates and examples made available for convenient and quick download. These comparison chart samples are made to ensure that the charts you are creative can effectively sort out the differences and similarities of any object or data in your hands.