Everything Excel: Is Excel a Data Visualization Tool?

microsoft excel data visualization tool

What is Excel? So many people talk about it, yet so few actually understand the software program’s capabilities. 

Is it a data visualization tool? Is it just a basic spreadsheet program? Can it be used for accounting purposes?

And is it really that much better than a free program like Google Sheets?

These are just a few of the questions people ask about Excel every day. Many people who are considering the program are looking for a tool that allows effective data visualization. They want to input information into a program that allows them to see it all in one effective and organized interface.

If that’s you, is Excel the right program? Or are there other visual studio data tools you need to be aware of? Keep reading to discover the best data visualization tools, and to see if Excel makes the list. 

What is a Data Visualization Tool?

First off, it’s important to clarify what data visualization even is. It might mean different things to different people and companies. 

In its most basic form, data visualization is the process of taking information or data from a company, and plugging it into a chart, graph, or other visual entity.

It helps people to understand numbers. For example, a piechart can show what percentage of your customers purchased product A vs. product B vs. product C. 

While an accountant may be able to read numbers and understand the bigger picture, others may struggle to do so. Data visualization will help to translate data into useful information, telling the underlying story of what is actually happening. 

It helps to convey financial information to other members of your business team. It can show marketing information about customers. And it can be used in many other ways to help teams across a company communicate with each other more effectively.

Choosing a Data Visualization Tool

So if you need to create data visuals, where should you start? Many people opt for Excel. It’s ready to go in Microsoft computers, and those without a Microsoft computer can install the program for their device.

Some people claim that it works well as a data visualization tool, while others declare it inefficient in this regard. 

For your most basic needs, such as creating simple charts and graphs, Excel does offer this functionality. There are many free data visualization tools available when you need to create simple visuals.

However, to communicate more complex information, and to truly help tell stories with your data, using more complex, open-source data visualization tools is a better option. 

Check out more about open-source tools here. The benefit of an open-source software program is that there aren’t any secrets. The source code used to create the program is free for anyone to inspect and validate, ensuring you are using a reputable and safe program. 

Start Simple

If you are new to using data visualization tools, then a program like Microsoft Excel, or even the web-based Google Sheets, might be a good starting point. However, the more you need to do, the more you’ll discover that these programs aren’t intended for this use.

More specific SaaS programs are going to be needed to craft more complex and more compelling visuals, and the open-source software is available when you need it.

Looking for more information like this on data viz? Head over to the Tech section of the Everything Entrepreneur blog to find other helpful articles on data analytics and software solutions.