Data Visualization for Product Managers

A few Rules of Thumb to Make You Dangerous

Chances are if you’re reading this is you’re a product manager or in some way a contributor to a product team and would like to give yourself a leg up when it comes to understanding the data that is coming your way.

I’m going to give you a few basic rules that are going to allow you to get up and running making visualizations in no time, but first things first.. a data types primer

Data Types

The visualizations that you choose are going to depend on the types of variables you have access to. What I want to focus on here are numeric, categorical, & time data.


Variables represented on a continuous scale. This could be dollars, clicks, calls, and so forth


Variables represented by a discreet list of values. This could be geographical region, gender, income range, business type, industry and so forth


Time is exactly what it sounds like. Could be the moment a click occurred, a deal was closed, and so..

Get Your Hands Dirty with Numeric Data

single variable – numeric:

Box & Whisker Plot: Great for assessing variable distribution

Histogram: Also great for assessing distribution

Two variables – numeric & numeric:

Scatter plot: Simple way to see how two numerics move together.

Categorical Data

Single variable – Categorical:

Bar Chart: Here we group by our categorical & take an aggregation– in this case… counts.

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Two Variables – Categorical & Categorical:

Heatmaps: Great way to identify how two categorical variables work together– a two dimensional table can sometimes be difficult to consume or take in all at once.

Bar chart: broken out by a second categorical variable


Two variables: Time & Numeric

Line Graph: Great way to indicate the change or movement of a given value through time. When time is a variable you want to include, this very frequently will be the case.


I hope you found this helpful as you crack open data visualization at your organization. If this was helpful and you’d like more detail, in the linked post I go into far greater depth on this topic and how to potentially include three or four variables in a given visualization:

Happy Data Science-ing!


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1 Comment

  1. Data visualization gives us a clear idea of what the information means by giving it visual context through maps or graphs and this post gets right to the heart of what data visualization is all about.


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