How to Visualize Associations with Analytics

By Jeff Sauro

You can visualize the relationship between two variables by graphing them in a scatterplot. Scatterplots are a useful tool to identify associations and examine the strength of the relationship.

The following figure shows the relationship between the time it takes customers to make a purchase on a website using their mobile phone and how many finger taps the purchase took. This data came from a usability study from 181 participants on an e-commerce mobile site.

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Each dot represents 1 of the 181 customers’ time and how many taps it took them to make the purchase:

  • The horizontal axis (called the x-axis) shows the number of taps.

  • The vertical axis (called the y-axis) shows the number of seconds it took for each participant to check out.

The next figure shows the same scatterplot with an arrow pointing to one customer who took 50 seconds to make the purchase with 16 taps.

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As the number of taps increase, so too does the time it takes the customer to check out. You can infer a positive association between the two pieces of data.