Pie charts are a favorite chart type for many Grow users. Pie charts are especially useful when displaying a relative portion of a class or grouping to a whole. In this article we will provide an overview of when and how to use pie charts to effectively represent your data.
Pie charts provide a simple way to show how a group or class, often called a ‘slice’, compares to the whole, or the ‘pie’.
For example, you could use a Pie Chart to track see which product is bringing in the most revenue, or if you are trying to optimize your website, you could see which device most customers use when looking at your website. While Pie Charts are pretty straight forward and popular they do have a few drawbacks.
Pie Charts are unable to display changes in data over time. For example, if you needed to know what product brought in the most revenue each month, you would be better off using a Stacked Column Chart or Line Chart.
Additionally, Pie Charts are unable to easily distinguish small variations between classes of data. For example, if you have two products that perform almost equally at 30% and 31% of your total revenue, it is difficult to distinguish the area difference between the two and you may be better off using a Column or Bar Chart.
Building a Pie Chart
The most important first step in creating any chart is to have your data prepped and ready to go. For help on doing this see our Working with Data help articles.
When you are ready to start charting switch the Metric Builder into Chart mode by select the Chart tab on the top of your screen. On the right hand side you will see a drop down menu displaying the current selected chart type, which is by default a Column Chart. Once selected you will see all of Grow’s chart types along with a visual representation of each. Select the Pie Chart in the Other section.
Once you have your chart selected you are able to select your Data Series and Labels.
Note: It’s important you don’t select your data series first then select your chart type, as some chart types are not compatible with each other and you may lose your selections.
Now that you have selected your Data Series and your Labels you can further customize your Pie Chart by selecting Display. We recommend adding a Legend to your chart to help users interpret the data. Additionally, you can change the color, add labels and format your numbers by selecting the Data Series dropdown.
Display Chart Labels and the Legend
We highly recommend displaying chart labels and the legend on most pie charts. Under the Data Series menu display the Label and the Percentage and under the Display menu select Values for the Legend (or vice versa). This provides the most data in one graphic, and is easy to understand.
We recommend sorting your data largest to smallest, as this makes it easy for any user to see what class represents a larger portion of the whole.
Six or Less Slices
If your pie chart slices are looking a little thin, or the chart is too busy it may be better to switch to a different chart type. Pie charts have a difficult time displaying more than 6-10 groupings effectively. Some clients choose to display a Top 5 or Top 10 as a way to track their top classes.