I'm writing a piece of software that involves users creating graphical charts. After they select the data they want (time period, location, etc.) what order should the next operations below take place?

1) X-Scale grouping (time, location, etc.)

2) Y-Scale modifiers (counts, percentages, costs, etc.)

3) Chart type (column, line, stacked-column)

Excel seems to favor 1 and 2 together and 3 whenever. I'm leaning towards 1 and 2 together and then 3 afterwards.

When you set out to create a chart what do you want to do first? why?

  • I suggest selection of chart first, as this may dictate the number of axes/scales the user is expected to provide.
    – kwah
    Commented Oct 20, 2014 at 13:19
  • Try to implement this wonderful diagram as a user workflow for 3). Does it still make sense to put it last?
    – Crissov
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 10:32

1 Answer 1


If the chart type doesn't depend on the data provided in 1) and 2), then selecting the chart type first won't be a problem. The problem arises when you can rule out certain types of data after the first steps, as this would lead to an error if the "wrong" data gets provided in later steps.

It of course also depends on your target audience. Experienced chart creators might know which type to use beforehand, whereas beginners might need their data presented in different options before choosing.

Whichever way you choose, just be sure not to carve the selection in stone and leave the option to change the graph type anytime.

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