Most writers, bloggers, and content marketers aren’t great designers. That’s where data visualization tools come in: if you’re in need of a clean, simple chart or graphic, these tools can help you share your data visually, often by letting you import your data into their preset templates.
Why does that matter? Because all great content marketing is rooted in storytelling, and data is a collection of as-of-yet unfiltered stories; it records trends in behavior that, in aggregate, reveal how things work. It’s no wonder that data stories tend to be some of the most shared, linked, and discussed stories on the internet. Data visualization should be a cardinal companion in your approach to content creation.
The best data visualization tools allow non-designers (and non-data scientists) to capture and represent data in accurate and compelling ways, all without having to know heavyweight design tools and principles. Here are my favorite data visualization tools for beginners.
The best simple data visualization tools
Chartblocks is a useful free data visualization tool that lets you either import your data from a spreadsheet or dataset or input data manually into a table. The design options are limited but robust enough to let you customize charts and graphs to match your brand. And, there aren’t any major restrictions (that I’ve found) to using the tool or downloading your final visual. It’s a free tool without many—if any—exceptions or fine print.
I especially liked how easy it was to import and adjust the simple datasets I was using in the tool. It’s one of the most user-friendly tools on this list, with an intuitive interface for data input and editing and a straightforward visual editor to make your charts look clean and polished. For most people who need simple data visualizations for existing data, this is the right tool to try first.
RabidTables is a free web-based data visualization tool that lets you create line graphs, bar graphs, pie charts, scatter plots, and table charts. The best part is that you don’t need to create an account in order to use RapidTables, making it the perfect option if you just need a simple, clean visual to represent your data.
The tool works through manual data input, so you won’t be able to import spreadsheets or other datasets, but that’s to be expected with a free, no-registration tool like this one. There are a few design options available for each chart type, including helpful ones like a full-spectrum color picker, but these options are limited.
One final limitation of RapidTables is that the default size of each chart is pretty small, so it’s best used for things like blog posts or internal presentations where you don’t need to take up an entire slide.
Price: Free, but access to the full list of templates starts at $12.25/month
Visme is a full-suite visual design tool that’s also useful for visualizing your date. Data for any chart you create can be added and edited through an in-app table that looks like a simple spreadsheet, and you can import existing data (even on the Free plan) through Excel, Sheets, SurveyMonkey, and even Google Analytics.
The design and template options are also pretty impressive on the free plan, but you’d likely want to upgrade if you plan on using this tool to its fullest extent or to scale out the creation of data visuals. There are some questionable templates in the mix—no one should ever use a 3D bar chart for anything—but most of the starting options are clean and simple and give you enough of a canvas to represent your brand in the template through the use of fonts and custom colors.
Once you’ve created a design, you quickly find that the “catch” with Visme is that you need a Pro plan in order to download the images. However, you can simply set your charts into Presentation Mode within the tool and grab a screenshot, as there aren’t any watermarks to speak of. Once you’re ready to make full use of the tool, you can then upgrade to Pro.
Price: Free, premium plans start at $9.99/month
Adobe Express is Adobe’s lightweight alternative to its professional suite of design software. Built to compete directly with more user-friendly tools like Canva, Adobe Express is free (with premium plans) and allows you to create custom charts and graphics with a wide variety of templates, palettes, and effects options.
When it comes to data visualization, Adobe Express is best used to clean up charts you need to look great in presentations. I found the tools’ ability to import and manipulate data to be lacking, but that’s not too surprising since it covers a wide variety of graphics needs and isn’t focused solely on data visualization. Many people will probably appreciate that Express probably has the best design options available but at the expense of being able to work with your data directly in the tool.
Price: Free, but the full range of design options becomes available on the Pro plan for $19/month
Infogram is a powerful data visualization editor that can take some time to get used to, but once you’re familiar with all of the options, it becomes a very versatile tool for showcasing your data. I was super impressed to see how easy Infogram made it to create an animated charter racer—those charts that show you how the data changes over time.
The range of chart options is impressive and made better by the fact that Infogram has some Canva-like capabilities to add visual flair like photography and other visuals. The free tier won’t block you off from too many features, though Infogram also tries to restrict downloads to paid plans—again, a screenshot is a simple workaround if you’re just trialing the tool. As I started using Infogram more, I found the team options well worth the price to upgrade, since it made it really simple to create and collaborate with other people.
The deceptively named LineGraphMaker.co is actually a set of simple tools that lets you create line charts (of course), bar charts, pie charts, scatter plot charts, radar charts, and doughnut charts—all for free and with no account registration.
As you’d expect, the design and customization options are limited as a tradeoff for being a free tool, but it’s the perfect solution for anyone who needs to quickly visualize relatively simple data. You won’t be able to customize the final design much at all, but then again, that’s probably not your biggest concern when using a simple but efficient data visualization tool like this one.
Tableau Public is a platform offered by Tableau, an analytics company, that lets anyone build and share data visualizations online. You’re likely not familiar with Tableau unless you use it for work, but Tableau Public is a much more accessible option open to anyone with a free account.
Tableau Public does require that you upload an existing set of data from a spreadsheet or allow the product to import data from a location like Google Drive or OData. As someone who’s used Tableau for work before, I’m familiar with the interface and find it relatively easy to navigate—but from having introduced people to the product, I know there’s a bit of a learning curve involved, and that applies to Tableau public, too.
If you’re planning on creating a number of data visualizations and need to import larger datasets to do so, it’s worth learning Tableau. If you rarely create data visualizations and just need something simple, the time investment with Tableau may be a bit high for your needs.
Datawrapped is another excellent tool if you already have a spreadsheet or data set available. The tool allows you to import a .csv from a number of locations, such as a self-hosted file on your website, Github, or direct from Google Sheets.
The design options for Datawrapper are solid, but as a free tool, there aren’t many built-in templates or palettes to choose from. Still, there’s a huge array of charts to choose from and enough customization options that you can get the final designs to fit your brand. Datawrapper also has a few small but important quality of life tools; I really appreciated the color blindness checker that’s built right into the tool, for example.
The free plan does require attribution should you want to embed the chart directly on your site. If you don’t you’ll have to upgrade to a premium plan which is a steep $499/month. Fortunately, most users can get plenty of value from the free plan and won’t need to upgrade unless they must remove attribution and need access to the extensive collaboration options that the premium plan unlocks.