How to Create a Bubble Map Chart

What is a bubble map?

Bubble map charts, as the name suggests, are a visual depiction of bubbles on a world or nation map. It is similar to bubble plots and scatter plots but only accepts latitude and longitude values. A bubble map chart can be used to visually indicate the data geographically using maps. This is what it looks like:

Bubble Map Chart Example

When to use bubble maps

Using a bubble map chart can be very informative if you want to know sales volumes by region, product-wise segmentation of the sales volume for the regions, and any other such business metrics that can communicate the results based on geographical locations.

How to create a bubble map

To begin with, let us take a quick look at prerequisites/essential elements to successfully create a bubble map chart using Chartio:

  1. Ensure that the data set contains latitudes and longitudes
  2. The dataset should be in this format: 3-5 columns in the following order: label, latitude, longitude, value (optional), and group (optional). Similar to Bubble Plots, a fourth column will become the bubble’s label, and a fifth column will be a category (and group the bubbles with separate colors.)

We will be working with the UFO Sightings data set available on Chartio dashboard.

  1. On your Chartio Explore page select UFO Sightings as the Data Source.
  2. Expand Sightings and drag City id to the Measures section under the interactive mode on the immediate right. You will see Total sum of #city.id
  3. Click the Total sum of #city.id tab and change the Aggregation to Count of distinct Sightings.City Id. You can change the label name to your likes, here we will change it to Sightings and click Ok.
  4. Expand Cities, drag & drop Lat, Lon data sets to the Dimensions sections. We will do the same for Shapes under Sightings (Expand sightings, drag & drop shapes to dimensions). Do not worry about the sequence of the data sets, we will be rearranging the columns later to suit our needs.
  5. Expand the Sightings, drag & drop Shapes into the Filter section. Add shapes under terms. Click Ok and Run Query. The results will be displayed in a table format. We need to rearrange the columns, as mentioned before, to use the bubble map chart tool.
  6. To do so, from the Add Transformation tab under ‘Layer 1’, choose Reorder Columns. Drag the columns to represent this format: Shape_1, Lat, Lon, Sightings, Shape_2 and click Apply and Close. Before using the Bubble Map tool, we want the locations with >=2 sightings so that we have a more informative data set to work with.
  7. Click the (+) button below Reorder column under Layer 1 and choose Filter Rows. Select Sightings under ‘Select a column’ tab, Greater than or equal to under ‘equal’ tab and type 2 in the ‘Value’ tab. Click Apply and Close.
  8. Now click on the Bubble Map tool and you have a Bubble Map Chart! You can choose between the following maps: US, Europe, Africa, Australia/New Zealand, and World. The maps can be changed with the settings tab above the current map.

Best practices using bubble maps

Bubble Map chart is one of the finest tools of Data Visualization especially for a business that has a global network of customers and clients to use the geographical data to assess the world market.

About Gargi Shirish Joshi

Hello readers! I am from India, currently studying dual masters in international business and business analytics from Hult International Business School in San Francisco. I am passionate about numbers/data and hence working with Chartio as a content marketing intern for data analysis at Data School. Keep learning!