Adding images to your posts is an essential way to bring your content to life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then adding a few relevant images to your posts can help win over your readers and get your message across in a more effective way than just a wall of text.
While screenshots are great for illustrating software related posts, and photographs can really enhance a travel blog, when it comes to illustrating data-focused content, the available options aren’t as obvious.
Screen grabbing charts and graphs from a spreadsheet is one option for visualizing your data, but if you are using WordPress then there are a few better options than that available to you. To find out the best way to add graphs and charts to your WordPress posts, read on for our guide to the best data visualization plugins for WordPress.
The Best Plugins for Adding Charts and Graphs to WordPress
While the selection of chart and graph plugins for WordPress is relatively small, there are still enough options available to make it easy to add a range of graphical representations of your data to your posts and pages.
Depending on the plugin you choose, you could simply type in the data to be used in the chart, link to a Google Spreadsheet or a file hosted eternally, or even use SQL to query an external database.
Whether you want to generate a static chart or create a dynamic visualization of your data, the plugins below will help you achieve your goal.
DW Chart – WordPress Plugin
DW Chart is a WordPress plugin which helps you easily build Google Charts based on the available data imported. The plugin supports 11 cool chart types, and its powerful admin panel enables you to customize your charts much easily. The plugin uses the Google Visualization API.
DW Chart supports the following 10 fully customizable chart types:
- Area chart
- Bar chart
- Column chart
- Geo chart
- Line chart
- Pie chart
- Combo chart
- Waterfall chart
- Scatter chart
- Trendlines chart
With DW Chart, you can create charts by uploading a CSV file. In the next coming updates, DW Chart also supports import the data using Google Spreadsheet.
Google Chart WordPress Plugin
The premium but affordable $8 Google Chart WordPress Plugin makes it very easy to add responsive charts and graphs to your post and pages.
The plugin can be connected to a Google Spreadsheet and will use the data from that file to generate and display a chart or graph on your website. If the data in that spreadsheet is updated, the visualization published on your website will automatically update as well to display the latest information.
When it comes to adding the charts and graphs to your site, the plugin makes use of a custom post type which is used to store each of the items you create. When creating a new graph, you can customize the titles and choose a chart type, before inserting the graphs into a post or page using a shortcode.
The Google Chart WordPress Plugin does also give you the ability to add the data and build the graphs directly in your site, without linking it to a Google Spreadsheet, but it’s not the best way to use this plugin.
If you are looking for a cost-effective and easy way to add dynamic charts and graphs to your WordPress website, then this plugin combined with Google Spreadsheets is a great option.
Visualizer is a free plugin for adding a range of chart types to your WordPress website. The plugin can use the data from files uploaded from your computer or hosted online. This also means it can work with Google Spreadsheets if you set the file up correctly.
The nine chart types on offer from the Visualizer plugin include:
The charts are rendered using HTML5 so they load quickly and don’t place a burden on your available resources, while also ensuring they are mobile responsive.
Once the plugin is activated on your site, you can create your first chart from the Visualizer library which is tucked away on the Media sub-menu.
When creating a chart, you can choose from the nine types on offer, and then provide the required data.
When it comes to providing the data for your charts you can either upload a CSV file from your computer or enter the URL of a CSV file that is hosted online. The second option allows you to use the data from a Google Spreadsheet, simply by entering the URL of a public spreadsheet that has been set as a CSV.
Once the file has been supplied, the chart preview is updated to display that data for the chart type you have chosen. The next step then allows you to customize the chart settings, labels, sizes and many other properties of the chart.
After the chart has been created, it can then be inserted into your posts and pages using the corresponding shortcode. Alternatively you can insert the charts via the Add Media button on the post editor. You can also edit and clone any existing charts on your site.
The developers of the plugin have created a useful knowledgebase that should answer all the questions new users might have in order to help them get up and running with Visualizer as quickly as possible.
Visualizer is a great option for anyone wanting to create charts based on CSV files they can upload from their computer or import from a URL.
WP Business Intelligence
WP Business Intelligence is available in a free, lite version and two premium options. What makes this option different from the other plugins covered so far is that all versions allow you to query a database in order to generate graphs, charts, and tables. The aim of this plugin is to turn your WordPress website into a powerful business intelligence tool.
While the free version allows you query your WordPress database to generate the charts, the premium versions give you the option of connecting to an external database. The top tier Enterprise version allows you to connect to an unlimited number of MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL databases, giving you plenty of flexibility for creating dashboards for all your clients.
Using the data stored in a database, whether external or not, to generate the charts means that whenever a visitor to your site loads a page, the chart or graph will be up to date, showing the latest visualization of the data in its source.
When it comes to using the WP Business Intelligence plugin on your site, the first step, after activating it, is to create a query that will return the data you would like to use for your charts or tables.
After the query has been created you can then define the chart or table you would like to generate.
As you work with the settings you can test them to get a preview of your chart or table, before saving it. Through the settings you can enable the option to let your visitors download the data in CSV format, as well as customize the colours and labels used in the charts.
Once the chart or table is ready, it can then be inserted into a post or page using the shortcode.
The premium versions of WP Business Intelligence have a more features including additional data source options, more chart types, and enhanced reporting dashboards.
If you have the SQL skills to write the queries and would like to use the data stored in a database to generate the charts and tables for your reports, then WP Business Intelligence could be the right tool for you. However, the user documentation is a little thin on the ground, so be prepared for a bit of learning curve before mastering this potentially powerful tool.
wpDataTables is a premium WordPress plugin, but it’s one that is packed with useful features for adding tables and charts your website.
One of the key selling points of wpDataTables is that you can choose from a range of data sources, and then generate a responsive chart or interactive, sortable table for immediate insertion into your WordPress posts and pages.
The data source options include MySQL, Excel, CSV, JSON, and XML. Thanks to these varied options you can query a database, upload files, or link to an external file to supply the data for your charts and tables.
When creating the tables, you get a good selection of options for customizing them in order to present your data in the right way. This includes making them available for download in a range of formats, making them sortable, allowing visitors to export the content, print, copy and search them.
When it comes to creating charts with wpDataTables, you also get a useful set of options and different chart types to choose from. The visualization options include area, bar, column, line, and pie charts. Once you’ve selected the chart type and then decided which columns of data to include, Google Chart Tools is used to generate the charts on your website.
Depending on the data source you are using, both the charts and tables can be dynamic, meaning they are updated each time the page they are displayed on is loaded, showing up to the minute information.
wpDataTables is a premium option but if you would like an advanced set of tools for visualizing data on your website, all wrapped up in an easy to use interface, then this plugin could well be worth the investment.
As you can see there are some great free and premium options for adding the functionality to your WordPress website that will allow you to generate a range of graphs, charts, tables, and other graphical representations of data.
Whether you want to enter the source data for the charts directly into your website, upload a file, or use an external source, such as a Google Spreadsheet or MySQL database, the above options have got you covered.
If you have any questions about adding charts and graphs to your WordPress posts, or you know of a different way of displaying data visually, then please leave a comment below.