We've got an application where we want to show parts-of-a-whole data in a table with multiple rows. The current table design has a small number of rows (4-8). Each contains text and numbers plus a pie chart.
The pie chart can have up to 8 sections, representing the fraction of the last 20 minutes that this row has been in any of 8 possible states. (If a state didn't occur, we don't show that slice).
Most users don't need to know the exact numbers, but want to get an overall sense of "usually in good state X" or "wow, spending too much time in bad state Y". For users that want precision, there is a rich tooltip that shows the details.
One of these states is 'good' (and is green); the other seven are different varieties of 'bad', some of which are "bad but if you wait it'll get better" and some are "bad and there's nothing you can do about it". Too much of a few of them indicates "bad and you need to get an administrator to help you."
I'm looking for alternatives to the pie chart. It doesn't work for narrow slices (users tend to overlook them), and with 8 colors, users are often confused about what each of them means.
- Changing the format of the table itself is not an option, i.e., these things should still be in rows.
- This is web-based, so we have access to graph-making widgets, but other recommendations are welcome.
- Animation / flashing things == bad.
- Screen real estate is at a premium; we don't want to get any taller. We do have a small amount of flexibility sideways, perhaps 3-4x as wide if it really added value.
- This is part of a complicated dashboard, so we want to avoid complete information overload, but users are willing to put up with some complexity to have good situational awareness.
What is a good way to present this data?