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Bullet charts are a type of bar chart. They make a comparison between a featured metric (the bullet) and a targeted measure (the target). They also compare the contrasted data to colored patches in the backdrop that offer qualitative measurements such as good, satisfactory, and bad.
Stephen Few invented the bullet graph as a variant on the bar graph. The bullet graph, which appears to be influenced by the conventional thermometer charts and progress bars present on many dashboards, acts as a replacement for dashboard gauges and meters. Bullet graphs were created to address the underlying shortcomings of gauges and meters: they often display too little information, take up too much space, and are crowded with unnecessary and distracting ornamentation. The bullet graph depicts a single, primary metric (for example, current year-to-date revenue), compares it to one or more additional measures to expand its meaning (for example, compared to a target), and places it in the context of qualitative performance ranges such as bad, satisfactory, and good. The qualitative ranges are presented as changing intensities of a single color to make them visible to colorblind users and to keep the usage of colors on the dashboard to a minimum.
Conducting exploratory research seems tricky but an effective guide can help.
The Bullet graph is comprised of five main components:
Text label: The caption for your chart that describes what it is about and the unit of measurement.
Quantitative Scale: This section of the bullet graph appears and works just like the quantitative scale on a two-dimensional XY graph. It is made up of tick marks and text labels that define equal intervals of measurement along the bottom or top of the graph when it is oriented horizontally, or along the left or right of the graph when it is oriented vertically. The tick marks can be placed on the inner or outside boundary of the plot area. The quantitative range normally starts at zero, but it can start with a negative number if necessary, and it can also start at a value larger than zero if it is desirable to reduce the scale’s range to encourage a closer focus on the details.
The Featured Measure: This section of the bullet graph contains the important data and should thus be aesthetically appealing prominent. It is usually represented as a bar, similar to the bar on a bar graph. The only one exception is when the quantitative scale begins with a number larger than zero; in this instance, the highlighted measure should be represented as a symbol, such as a dot or an X.
Comparative Measure: These things should be less visually dominating than the main measure, but easily seen in relation to it. It should always be represented as a short line perpendicular to the graph’s orientation. When the highlighted measure intersects a comparative measure, the comparative measure should always display behind the featured measure.
Qualitative Scale: These ranges convey not only the qualitative condition of the highlighted measure, but also the extent to which it dwells within that state. For example, if the measure extends into the “excellent” range, the distance it goes into this range reflects how good it is. The number of qualitative ranges should be kept to a maximum of five, preferably three. More than five qualitative states would need a degree of perceptual thinking that would be inefficient for a dashboard. The range should be represented as fil-color rectangles behind end-to-end measurements that define the whole plot area of the graph.
Two: 35% and 10%, respectively.
Three: forty percent, twenty-five percent, and ten percent black
Four: fifty percent, thirty-five percent, twenty percent, and ten percent black
Five: fifty percent, thirty-five percent, twenty percent, ten percent, and three percent black
Use color to depict accomplishment thresholds:
Using color as a backdrop provides the observer with additional reference to better understand how performance is judged against goals.
Add bullets to dashboards to provide summary information:
Combining bullets with other chart types in a dashboard promotes fruitful discussions about where focus is required to achieve goals.
The vertical bullet gauge compares a measure to a preset value while also displaying the qualitative range in which the measured value falls. It also tells if the value is excellent, awful, or ugly, all in a little amount of space. The gauge is shown as a vertical bar that is segmented and color-coded based on the qualitative ranges selected. It’s used to show a single essential metric. As an indication of the measured value, a vertical line, the goal line, is drawn within the vertical bar. This gauge can be used on a dashboard to compare statistics such as revenue generated with revenue targeted.
The horizontal bullet gauge compares a measure to a preset value while also displaying the qualitative range in which the measured value falls. It also tells if the value is excellent, awful, or ugly, all in a little amount of space. The gauge is shown as a horizontal bar that is segmented and color-coded based on the qualitative ranges selected. It’s used to show a single essential metric. As an indication of the measured value, a horizontal line, the target line, is drawn within the horizontal bar. This indicator may be used on a dashboard to compare actual revenue versus projected revenue.
Bullet chart can show both positive and negative values. But negative values always indicate ‘danger zone’. This is a sign to gear up a business to increase revenue for the growth of the business.
Negative bullet chart can be both horizontal and vertical.
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