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I'm writing a web app that allows the user to define his own questions, where each question has a defined type:

  • numeric (includes ranged, like from 0 to 100, monetary, etc)
  • options (like a radio group)
  • textual
  • true/false

The user can answer these questions everyday. I'm then charting these answers using mainly two kinds of charts

  • column charts for numeric, true/false
  • pie charts for option answers

I'm not quite happy with this, and I was wondering if there's a simpler way of representing all of these answers. I'm thinking of some kind of infographic, but I'm not quite sure of how to do this. I would like the charts to be interactive.

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Are these answers independent and you're charting them one answer per chart, or are you trying to come up with a single visualization that shows everything? – Monica Cellio Jul 19 '11 at 14:08
The best would be a single visualization that show everyting. Since all the data is based on a day of the month, I think it would suit more nicely – Miguel Ping Jul 19 '11 at 14:41
Have you seen daytum? – peteorpeter Jul 19 '11 at 18:50

For numeric values consider bar charts and line charts. The canonical way of representing stock prices over time is a line chart, for example; people understand how to read that.

Consider the following example from This chart shows aligned regions conveying a bunch of numeric weather data over time:

weather chart

You could align check boxes (booleans) or columns (text) vertically by date to show information that can't be graphed. Or you could add a symbol to the chart for each day; imagine the above with an icon for each day showing sun, sun + clouds, clouds, thunderheads, etc. (This is an example of choosing one value from a finite set of options.)

In these charts line type and color just serve to disambiguate among data elements shown in the same region (e.g. so you can tell dew point from temperature). Weather is continuous, so lines make sense; if your data is discrete you might instead use marks, one per day per numeric value, and that would give you the ability to use mark shape, color, border color, and possibly other factors to convey information.

Suppose, instead of weather, you are tracking somebody's nutrition and exercise. A day's slice of the space could show three marks for calories from protein, fat, and carbs; a mark could be red if this is over the RDA (a computed boolean value). A line could indicate total calories and a second line could indicate net calories -- input minus that day's exercise.

I'm just brain-storming here to try to show some possibilities.

share|improve this answer
I've answered your question. – Miguel Ping Jul 19 '11 at 17:34
Thanks. Edited this answer. – Monica Cellio Jul 19 '11 at 20:16
Thanks, you gave me alot of food for thought. – Miguel Ping Jul 20 '11 at 9:37

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