How I create charts for reports without using Excel

How I create charts for reports without using Excel

After I published my review of mobile product page designs, I had a couple of people ask how I put the charts together in the article. Their working assumption was I’d created them in Excel and they wanted to do the same.

Sorry to disappoint, but while the data was held in Excel and I did use charting to help with some analysis, the charts on the site were all hand-cranked.

I have a few templates for charting and infographics in Affinity Designer. One of these formed the base, although I adjusted it to have a portrait format rather than my usual landscape. It seemed more appropriate given the topic of mobile device design.

Chart template set out in Affinity Designer

The template has its own grid, the base axis for the charts, base bars and text styles defined. Doing this up front makes creating repeating charts that are consistent across a piece a lot quicker and easier.

Working out all the bar lengths would have been a pain in the neck, had I not cracked it a couple of years ago. The bars are created with 1 pixel width representing 1 percentage point. A bar representing 90 percent of something is 90 pixels wide, 50 pixels for 50 percent and so on. At this stage they’re too short, so I resize all the bars together to a more appropriate length. The correct proportions are preserved, the chart is accurate and the design is balanced.

Chart from report on mobile product page design showing the common labels used in call to action buttons

Using this approach it took about 10-15 minutes to get one chart done.

Tip for your own blog: build up a few templates for things like charts that you’ll use quite often. It saves a lot of time when you need to create them, and you’ll get consistency across your blog posts and reports.

You can read my report on mobile web page design here.

About Ross A Hall

A business researcher and writer, I help companies find new markets, form strategies and build successful businesses.

Find out more about my work.

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