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Review of Chart Editors in 6 Free Infographic Makers

There are several reviews of top infographic makers, but I will focus here only on their chart editors. Charts are a type of infographic: they represent data in a visual form, and chart customization modules are now part of most infographic tools.

1. Infogram

The online editor of Infogram uses a modern dark theme. They make it easy to insert a chart in your document: there is a top icon on the left sidebar, called Add Chart. This expands a nice looking list with many chart types, represented by both text and a suggestive image. The list of supported chart types is pretty impressive: beyond the typical column/bar and pie/doughnut charts, you find radial and irregular charts, semicircles, combo charts, stream area charts, pyramid/funnel charts, gauge and progress bar charts, candlesticks, waterfall and treemap charts, and many other types.

The charts are live – i.e. animated and interactive – as they are using a SVG-based JavaScript charting library. All charts are initially populated with some demo data – which is good, because you get their feeling without having to pass your own data yet. Select the chart, and the right sidebar will have two tabs: Edit Data and Settings. The data grid looks great: each column header shows the series color, and first row appears in bold, for the column headers. You can actually add here data for more charts, to be represented in separate tabs.

Switch to Settings and you can customize the visual styles. You may also change the chart type, which is also good, because not all chart makers allow you to do this once you already customized your chart. Unfortunately, there is no theme selection and colors have to be also changed one by one. The other options are not structured very well, and the whole experience of styling the chart could be improved with better usability. It’s great you have different options organized in an accordion widget, by functionality. But I was surprised to expand tabs like Legend and Tooltips to discover just one show/hide toggle switch in each.

Charts are all public, unless you upgrade to a paying plan and keep them private. There are plenty of options to embed your charts, not just as IFRAMEs, but also as responsive charts, loaded asynchronously or as WordPress plugin short codes. Data may be also loaded from plenty of different sources, including Google Spreadsheet documents, Dropbox or OneDrive.

To conclude, this is a great looking and very functional rich chart editor, one of the most appealing and rich in functionality you may find in all infographic makers. The Settings tab could still be improved and  organized in a better way.

2. Piktochart

Piktochart uses a minimalist yet colorful editor theme. Use ToolsChart to open up a popup and configure the chart to insert in your document. The same popup can be later used to edit any inserted chart. The popup has them all together: (a) a long left sidebar with the many available chart types, represented by thumbnails; (b) the Data grid; (c) and access to the visual configuration of your chart.

Add more than one series, and some of the available chart types disappear from the sidebar: this may be confusing to some users. Beside the visible Data grid, filled by default with test data, the Dynamic Data allows you to import from a Google Spreadsheet, but the How To section is too long and the images small, not visible enough.

Finally, the chart configuration screen looks nice and minimalist, not cluttered, with only basic configuration options available. But these choices may be sometimes confusing, and it might surprise you what you’ll find here. For instance, if you choose a pyramid chart, there is a combo box here that helps you use a funnel instead, or other very unusual shapes. Charts are animated, interactive and SVG-based, which is great.

Overall, this is a pleasant experience, and I loved the way the chart editor is isolated in a popup, away from the generic IDE and document design sheet. The configuration pane may include a larger number of options, and some design choices should avoid the element of surprise.

3. Visme

Another stylish editor, with a dark theme. Visme displays a tab with Charts and Data Objects, and actual charts are located on top – click on the first icon. The chart editor opens up in a popup, very similar, as structure and organization, with the chart editor presented before, for Piktochart. The same popup can be used to edit the chart, but there is no button to do so. You have to guess you must either double-click on the chart, or use the Settings contextual menu, after a right mouse click.

In the chart editor, you have a long list of chart types on the left sidebar, that you may click on to change your chart. Some charts are available only for a paying plan. Charts are using the amCharts JavaScript charting library, and the thumbnails reflect this as well. amCharts are known for a high degree of animation provided for their charts, so all charts are animated and interactive.

Data and Import Data mimic the same tabs described for Piktochart. The Settings tab is somehow different, following an accordion approach, with expandable sections. Controls are large and do not properly use the small available space: the five accordion headers alone take almost 25%  of all available space in the section, and some of them hide just 2-3 controls, so not enough. It’s nice however you have an option for full screen, to expand this editor to the whole browser area.

The overall impression is good. As for Picktochart, I love the fact the chart editor is separate from the generic framework. Settings could be better organized, and the verbose Import Data tab could be eventually re-designed for a more minimalist approach. And I would love to avoid passing through a tab just to insert a chart: why not adding the Insert Chart button in the main toolbar already?

4. Venngage

I confess, I got confused first by a rather old and minimalist Free Chart Maker called BEAM, and I though this is it, that’s all Venngage has to offer. They should update that page and redirect us to their richer infographic maker instead. The new editor uses large buttons, large text and huge padding. It may have been designed this way for mobile, but on my laptop it does not look particularly great. The top expandable tab from the left sidebar is called Charts, so it was easy to find. You’ll see a large selection of chart types, but some of them are not free. After you add a chart, it’s hard to find how to edit it. There is a Setting button on the top-right corner, but this is for the page. There is however a small Edit button on the top menu, but question remains: why wasting so much time to find this very basic functionality?

The actual chart editor opens up as a series of right sidebars, with way too many headers. Cancel and Save buttons on top, folowed by Data and Settings tab headers, other Chart Type and Chart Style expandable headers below, and finally the Data grid, which is larger than anything else, and covers the chart. To me, this cries loud “bad usability”, and it is certainly an area to improve. The Settings tab has many expandable headers, with very large controls inside. You’re wondering why the Chart Style section was not somehow included here, because this is what it relates to, not to your data.

Good news is they are internally using the Highcharts JavaScript charting library, which may be the best such product in its category. However, many charts do not seem to take advantage, by default, of the great animation and interactivity features of this library. In design mode, they do not show tooltips and they may display no animation.

I have to say, I’ve been rather disappointed by this chart editor, by the overall design choices and user experience. I expected more, especially because of the popularity of Venngage and the fact they are using a top quality commercial charting library such as Highcharts.

5. Canva

When I discovered Canva, one of their screens had the powerful title “Free Online Graph and Charts Maker“. My expectation, after this message, was to find of course a powerful chart editor, comparable at least with Infogram’s or Piktochart’s editors. You discover your charts under the ElementsCharts icon. It’s at the bottom of the tab, and it has a “New” label on it. Not clear if the Chart module itself is new, or there are new chart types included here…

First time you look at all these charts, with great colors, you have a wow moment. But this is it. Looking closer, you see in fact you have a very limited number of chart types, repeated again and again. A large number of Venn diagrams, with different circles and colors. Many empty circles, you don’t know what they are. Six icons for a column chart, six for a line chart, three for a pie or doughnut chart, just using different colors? Some of them are EDIT, others are FREE. However, you have to check the documentation, to discover FREE means actually NO-EDIT, so it’s more restrictive.

Insert a chart with EDIT in your document and look for the editor. Well, there is no separate editor. There is a top menu Style button you could click on, and hard to guess what it does: it’s actually redundant, because you may replace the chart type from the sidebar. The top menu has a very limited number of chart configuration options for a modern tool. You may also change individual series colors, one by one. The Data menu item expands a data grid sidebar on the left, with very limited options of data entry: direct in the grid, or with paste in a large text field.

Last surprise is all generated charts, in both design and presentation mode, look to be statically generated, as HTML DIVs and nothing more. No JavaScript charting library for dynamic charts, no HTML5 canvas or SVG, no interaction. Just plain colored DIVs that look like static images.

I don’t know if their Chart module is just new, or this is what they intend to keep, but this is not what any modern infographic maker uses as infrastructure. It may be ok for unpretentious users who may manually draw as well such charts, but not for those looking for more. There are also huge usability issues in the way everything was put together. And their tab for a chart type selection reflects just the plain and simple confusion from application designer’s mind. It was just surprising to find so many issues with a very popular infographic maker.

6. Easelly

Easel.ly comes with a huge number of rich amazing infographic templates. But if you are interested just in charts, you may get the feeling that’s not their main strength. You click on their top Charts button, and you discover just four chart types you may use for free: the bar, column, line, and radar chart types. “…Want more charts? Go Pro!“, their message says. But when you look for the “chart” word in the huge page you’re redirected to, with hundreds of icons, there is nowhere to find it. Some “icons” may look like having some sort of charts in them, but this is it.

You drag and drop a chart type icon on your page area, and you resize it. By default, you get a weird combination of blue and pink colors for the series. I had a hard time to discover how to edit my chart. In the end, I double-clicked on it, and fortunately this was the hidden trick. A popup opens up, covering the chart you have on the page, with two tabs: Data and Options. In data mode, you cannot see the chart. You may import or enter data manually, in each cell, one by one. The Options tab has a very low number of styling options, just five for my simple column chart, with my chart beside.

The good news is charts are animated and interactive. They use some HTML5 canvas-based JavaScript charting library, probably some in-house customized version with Fabric.js. Which is not however one of the top modern products in this area today.

The overall conclusion is not great. Easel.ly may be a popular infographic maker, but its charting module is one of the most deceiving. A very limited number of chart types you may use for free, and you get no idea what other charts are including in the paying plan. Which may be cheap, at only $3 a month, but still not free. Most competitors offer way more for free. Configuring a chart is also very poor, and charts look outdated. Their charting software may need an upgrade. And the choice of using blue and pink colors in the default chart style makes it worse.

Cristi Scutaru
Cristi Scutaru

Experienced software architect and developer, founder of XtractPro Software, creator of chart-templates.com and data-xtractor.com. Focused lately on easy data extraction, visual data representation, and productivity tools.


Cristi Scutaru

Experienced software architect and developer, founder of XtractPro Software, creator of chart-templates.com and data-xtractor.com. Focused lately on easy data extraction, visual data representation, and productivity tools.