With so many data visualization methods, diagrams, and charts out there and ever-growing, it’s hard to keep track on which visualization types go with which data sets best. 

That’s why we’ve created this handy list of the best tools to visualize connections in data visualization, take a look 😉 Oh, and if you haven’t yet, check out our free guide on How to Show Hierarchy with Data Visualization – it’s outstanding.

How to Visualize Connections in Data Visualization

Arc Diagram

Let’s begin our list of best data visualization methods to show connections with a weird-looking Arc Diagram. Arc diagrams are built in a specific way that requires some terminology to be learned before proceeding further. First of all, all Arc Diagram points are placed along a single horizontal line (for some reason absent in the visualization chart below) called axis. 

The little points placed on the axis are called nodes, and the semicircles connecting those nodes go by the name “arc links”. Arc Diagram data visualization method is primarily used to display network connections and detecting co-occurrence patterns within data. 

The thickness of the ark links usually represents the frequency of connection among nodes. Arc Diagrams were originally designed to “see what does music look like”.  

Chord Diagram

At first glance, Chord Diagrams are not the user-friendliest data visualization method. But that’s just at first glance. In reality, they are quite fun (no objections here) and easy to understand (after some studying) visualization techniques. Let’s start with a circle.

Each value, in our example we have A, B, C, D and E, takes up a certain uneven piece of the circle according to its proportion. Then, values interlace, showing us arc connections where values have something in common. The larger the arc, the bigger the connection. 

Chord Diagrams are one of the few data visualization tools that rely on colour transparency so heavily, and get impossible to read without it. This data visualization method is perfect for tracking similarities within different data groups or values within a single set of data.     

Non-ribbon Chord Diagram

A long and complex name of the Non-ribbon Chord Diagram perfectly illustrates the intricate and perplexing nature of said diagram. Until you look closer. Because once you do, you’ll notice that it is the exact same Chord Diagram from before but well, without ribbons. 

In order to explain the Non-ribbon Chord Diagram easier, we’ll use the lettered areas of A, B, C, D, E and F from before. Here, as you can see, the arcs do not take up the whole lettered area, coming into and from a single point, or a so-called node. 

This peculiar structure of the Non-ribbon Chord Diagram is used by data scientists to focus on connections between data values in a single matrix and nothing else. 

Connection Map

The next stop on our best data visualization methods for showing connections is (*impressive drum roll*)  a Connection Map. A Connection Map is exactly what it sounds like – a regular world map where dots interconnect with each other.

Connection Maps are used in order to show network connections laid over geographical data. This visualization technique is most commonly used to showcase the import & export flow, a travel journey, the typical flight and subway station connections. 

Connection Maps carry more information once we add colour to the lines and a variety of line sickness, which allows this data visualization method to not only uncover spatial patterns using connections’ distribution, but to also evaluate the concentration of the said connections on a given map.

Brainstorm Diagram

Brainstorm Diagram or a Mind Map is a visual representation of data that was born way before the term “data visualization” was. We’ve all seen one being created or maybe created one ourselves while trying to summon and later organize the flow of new, juicy ideas. 

Brainstorm Diagrams should be read from the center of the dashboard or a page, where the main topic is highlighted, and which then connects to multiple branched out categories. Various categories then spawn into subcategories and single items, forming a tree system.

Unlike other methods of visualizing connections in data visualization, on top of showing connections among values Brainstorm Diagram also displays hierarchy. This trait can be positively exploited and used outside of the typical brainstorm boardroom meeting dynamic.  

Dendrogram

Remember a Tree Diagram from our How to Show Hierarchy with Data Visualization article? A Dendrogram is its blood relative. Regardless of some data visualization diagrams’ similarities, there is also a flock of major differences. First and foremost, Tree Diagrams are typically used on their own, without any additional complications, while Dendrograms are generally used only in conjunction with other data visualization methods. 

Dendrograms are usually placed on the additional XY coordinate system, where the vertical axis represents value gradation (from 0 to 150, for example), and the horizontal axis holds the names for each line break, which are letters from A to I in our example. 

Dendrogram Diagrams are most loved and cherished in computational biology, where they are employed to demonstrate the clustering of certain genes and test samples, commonly placed over heatmap visualizations.

Network Diagram

And the last chart on our list of the best methods to visualize connections in data visualization is a Network Diagram. A Network Diagram is also, not without a reason, called a Node-Link Diagram. And here’s why – this data visualization tool uses nodes (dots) and link lines to display connections between certain values. Network Diagram is the most effective way to display connections among all others since it can utilize more than 100 nodes, while the rest of the data visualization methods would get unusable. 

Network Diagrams rarely get complicated by different node sizes or weights of the line stroke, although it is possible. This type of data visualization method is appreciated due to its unsophisticated nature which does not impose hierarchy or relations among separate network clusters. 

To deploy its full potential, Network Diagram is generally used to display the structure of a network by searching for any accumulation of the nodes, the density to which nodes are connected or the layout by which the whole Network Diagram is arranged. 

Conclusion

Knowing how to use the best type of data visualization method when it comes to showcasing connections is a great addition to a skill toolbox. Here’s a list of articles specifically that you personally would enjoy: