The less-is-more story, and its meta

The Schwab magazine has an interesting discussion of a marketing research study purportedly showing "less is more" when it comes to consumer choice. They summarized the experimental setup and results in the following succinct graphic: The data consist of nested proportions. For example, among those seeing display 1, 60% stopped to look at the jams, and among those who stopped, 3% purchased. The nesting is presented as overlap in this...

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Some like it packed, some like it piled, and some like it wrapped

In addition to Xan's "packed bars" (which I discussed here), there are some related efforts to improve upon the treemap. To recap, treemap is a design to show parts against the whole, and it works by packing rectangles into the bounding box. Frequently, this leads to odd-shaped rectangles, e.g. really thin and really tall ones, and it asks readers to estimate relative areas of differently-scaled boxes. We often make mistakes...

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Unintentional deception of area expansion #bigdata #piechart

Someone sent me this chart via Twitter, as an example of yet another terrible pie chart. (I couldn't find that tweet anymore but thank you to the reader for submitting this.) At first glance, this looks like a pie chart with the radius as a second dimension. But that is the wrong interpretation. In a pie chart, we typically encode the data in the angles of the pie sectors, or...

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What do we think of the “packed” bar chart?

Xan Gregg - my partner in the #onelesspie campaign to replace terrible Wikipedia pie charts one at a time - has come up with a new chart form that he calls "packed bars". It's a combination of bar charts and the treemap. Here is an example of a packed barchart, in which the top 10 companies on the S&P500 index are displayed: What he's doing is to add context to...

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The art of contaminating data

This is one of those innocent-looking charts that could have been a poster child for artistic embellishment. The straightforward time-series chart is deemed too boring. The designer shows admirable constraint in inserting “information-free” content, such as the dense gridlines (graph paper) and the 3D effect (ticker). Seem harmless but not really. Here I turn off the color. After the 3D effect is applied, the reader no longer knows whether to...

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Announcing a new venture

This is a great time for people in the data business. If you go on Linkedin and look for data jobs, there are several thousand open positions, just in the New York area. Every department within any business is accumulating data, and they need people to help them get value out of the data. There are also lots of people I meet who would like to transition their careers to...

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Making people jump over hoops

Take a look at the following chart, and guess what message the designer wants to convey: This chart accompanied an article in the Wall Street Journal about Wells Fargo losing brokers due to the fake account scandal, and using bonuses to lure them back. Like you, my first response to the chart was that little has changed from 2015 to 2017. It is a bit mysterious the intention of the...

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Shocker: ease of use requires expanding, not restricting, choices

Recently, I noted how we have to learn to hate defaults in data visualization software. I was reminded again of this point when reviewing this submission from long-time reader & contributor Chris P. The chart is included in this Medium article, which credits Mott Capital Management as the source. Look at the axis labels on the right side. They have the hallmarks of software defaults. The software designer decided that...

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Canadian winters in cold gray

I was looking at some Canadian data graphics while planning my talk in Vancouver this Thursday (you can register for the free talk here). I love the concept behind the following chart: Based on the forecasted temperature for 2015 (specifically the temperature on Christmas Eve), the reporter for National Post asked whether the winter of 2015 would be colder or warmer than the winters on record since 1990. The accompanying...

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A pretty good chart ruined by some naive analysis

The following chart showing wage gaps by gender among U.S. physicians was sent to me via Twitter: The original chart was published by the Stat News website (link). I am most curious about the source of the data. It apparently came from a website called Doximity, which collects data from physicians. Here is a link to the PR release related to this compensation dataset. However, the data is not freely...

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