Axis

15 posts
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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Your charts need the gift of purpose

Via Twitter, I received this chart: My readers are nailing it when it comes to finding charts that deserve close study. On Twitter, the conversation revolved around the inversion of the horizontal axis. Favorability is associated with positive numbers, and unfavorability with negative numbers, and so, it seems the natural ordering should be to place Favorable on the right and Unfavorable on the left. Ordinarily, I'd have a problem with...

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Much more to do after selecting a chart form

I sketched out this blog post right before the Superbowl - and was really worked up as I happened to be flying into Atlanta right after they won (well, according to any of our favorite "prediction engines," the Falcons had 95%+ chance of winning it all a minute from the end of the 4th quarter!) What I'd give to be in the SuperBowl-winning city the day after the victory! Maybe...

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Chopped legs, and abridged analyses

Reader Glenn T. was not impressed by the graphical talent on display in the following column chart (and others) in a Monkey Cage post in the Washington Post: Not starting column charts at zero is like having one's legs chopped off. Here's an animated gif to show what's taking place: (you may need to click on it to see the animation) Since all four numbers show up on the chart...

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Sorting out the data, and creating the head-shake manual

Yesterday's post attracted a few good comments. Several readers don't like the data used in the NAEP score chart. The authors labeled the metric "gain in NAEP scale scores" which I interpreted to be "gain scores," a popular way of evaluating educational outcomes. A gain score is the change in test score between (typically consecutive) years. I also interpreted the label "2000-2009" as the average of eight gain scores, in...

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Political winds and hair styling

Washington Post (link) and New York Times (link) published dueling charts last week, showing the swing-swang of the political winds in the U.S. Of course, you know that the pendulum has shifted riotously rightward towards Republican red in this election. The Post focused its graphic on the urban / not urban division within the country: Over Twitter, Lazaro Gamio told me they are calling these troll-hair charts. You certainly can...

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How will the Times show election results next week? Will they give us a cliffhanger?

I don't know for sure how the New York Times will present election results next week; it's going to be as hard to predict as the outcome of the election! The Times just published a wonderful article describing all the different ways election results have been displayed in the past. tldr; The designer has to make hard choices. Some graphics are better at one thing but worse at another. If...

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Raining, data art, if it ain’t broke

Via Twitter, reader Joe D. asked a few of us to comment on the SparkRadar graphic by WeatherSpark. At the time of writing, the picture for Baltimore is very pretty: The picture for New York is not as pretty but still intriguing. We are having a bout of summer and hence the white space (no precipitation): Interpreting this innovative chart is a tough task - this is a given with...

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What doesn’t help readers (on the chart) and what does help (off the chart)

Via Twitter, Bart S (@BartSchuijt) sent me to this TechCrunch article, which contains several uninspiring charts. The most disturbing one is this: There is a classic Tufte class here: only five numbers and yet the chart is so confusing. And yes, they reversed the axis. Lower means higher "app abandonment" and higher means lower "app abandonment". The co-existence of the data labels, gridlines, and axis labels increases processing time without...

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