Comparability

8 posts
Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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Let’s not mix these polarized voters as the medians run away from one another

Long-time follower Daniel L. sent in a gem, by the Washington Post. This is a multi-part story about the polarization of American voters, nicely laid out, with superior analyses and some interesting graphics. Click here to see the entire article. Today's post focuses on the first graphic. This one: The key messages are written out on the 2017 charts: namely, 95% of Republicans are more conservative than the median Democrat,...

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Getting into the heads of the chart designer

When I look at this chart (from Business Insider), I try to understand the decisions made by its designer - which things are important to her/him, and which things are less important. The chart shows average salaries in the top 2 percent of income earners. The data are split by gender and by state. First, I notice that the designer chooses to use the map form. This decision suggests that...

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A long view of hurricanes

This chart by Axios is well made. The full version is here. It's easy to identify all the Cat 5 hurricanes. Only important ones are labeled. The other labels are hidden behind the hover. The chart provides a good answer to the question: what time of the year does the worst hurricanes strike. It's harder to compare the maximum speeds of the hurricanes. I wish there is a way to...

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The salaries are attractive but the chart isn’t

The only reason why the IEEE Spectrum magazine editors chose this chart form is because they think they need to deliver precise salary figures to readers. This chart is just so... sad. The color scheme is all wrong, the black suggesting a funeral. The printed data occupying at least half of the width of each bar frustrate any attempt to compare lengths. We enter an unusual place where higher numbers...

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Speed demon quartered and shrunk

Reader Richard K. submitted a link to Microsoft Edge's website. This chart uses three speedometers to tell the story that Microsoft's Edge browser is faster than Chrome or Firefox. These speedometer charts are disguised racetrack charts. Read last week's post first if you haven't. Richard complained the visual design distorting the data. How the distortion entered the picture is a long story. Let's begin with an accurate representation of the...

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Wheel of fortune without prizes: the negative report about negativity

My friend, Louis V., handed me a report from Harvard's Shorenstein Center, with the promise that I can make a blog post or two from it. And I wasn't disappointed. This report (link) caught some attention a few months ago because of the click-bait headline that the media is "biased" against Trump in his first 100 days. They used the most naive definition of "bias". The metric is the amount...

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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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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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