I have a matrix that looks like the following, and I want to make a chart out of it because the numbers are just too much to look at. What is the easiest way to digest this information? We are trying to emphasize that the number in the lower left is tooo big and that the numbers in the upper right are the ones that you really want to be big

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  • What makes you think this is difficult to digest? Have you considered displaying a short text warning like "Try lowering X value to increase efficiency."? A chart might not get your point across.
    – fri
    Dec 12, 2014 at 7:02
  • Is it fair enough to assume that these are tasks or projects? Can all the above numbers be added to get total tasks or projects.
    – Chetan
    Dec 12, 2014 at 8:10
  • How are you defining "too big"? My assumption is that there will always be SOME in the bottom left corner.. In other words, you need to define, specifically, what you are trying to communicate by this visual. It seems that what you are looking for is a way to show that there are a sequence of actions pending, and it is bad to have many actions still in the early stages of the process..?
    – kwah
    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:27

3 Answers 3


I would use a heatmap here. Heatmap is, essentially, colored cells behind the values. Intensity of color shows how big the value is.

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  • This, as presented, does not apply as there is not an absolute range from one value to another (red to green). Assuming that red is bad and green is desirable, in the OP a value of 1000 in one corner might be red and a value of 1000 in another corner might be red.
    – kwah
    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:17
  • 2
    @kwah: I've added an image to explain application in OP's case. Basically, heatmap does not only apply in cases with gradient of values (-n to +n), the point is to add color to cells to attract attention to biggest values. Here OP color-coded the meanings himself, so what's left to add is a percentage of opacity representing the value of each cell. Biggest value in the chart (1344 here) stands for 100% opacity.
    – Zoe K
    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:54

Communication which quadrant is desirable is not really the job of the chart. You'd need to decorate the axis or chart in some way. However keeping the quadrants and colours that you already have is fine for a western audience.

Why not a bubble chart


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • Please clarify how using a bubble chart can communicate different scales of desirability. Eg, you want some bubbles to be small and others to be big?
    – kwah
    Dec 12, 2014 at 9:35
  • @kwah Please re-read the first sentence of the answer carefully. Desirability can be assisted by colour coding the bubbles. Red = BAD, Green= GOOD (for western audiences)
    – Jason A.
    Dec 12, 2014 at 13:57

You may use stacked bars. Use white for no plan, green for on plan and red for off plan. Use a tooltip to show the actual value when the user moves the mouse on a bar. See picture below :

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