Comparability

27 posts
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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Sorting out what’s meaningful and what’s not

A few weeks ago, the New York Times Upshot team published a set of charts exploring the relationship between school quality, home prices and commute times in different regions of the country. The following is the chart for the New York/New Jersey region. (The article and complete data visualization is here.) This chart is primarily a scatter plot of home prices against school quality, which is represented by average test...

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Context, color and animation: a nice effort

What made this infographic from South Carolina Ports is the choice of contextual comparisons. The simple animation also helps. (Original here if the animated gif isn't working.) The random colors mean nothing but they did make me look at the graphic in the first place.

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Visualizing citation impact

Michael Bales and his associates at Cornell are working on a new visual tool for citations data. This is an area that is ripe for some innovation. There is a lot of data available but it seems difficult to gain insights from them. The prototypical question is how authoritative is a particular researcher or research group, judging from his or her or their publications. A proxy for "quality" is the...

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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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An example of focusing the chart on a message

Via Jimmy Atkinson on Twitter, I am alerted to this chart from the Wall Street Journal. The title of the article is "Fiscal Constraints Await the Next President." The key message is that "the next president looks to inherit a particularly dismal set of fiscal circumstances." Josh Zumbrun, who tipped Jimmy about this chart on Twitter, said that it is worth spending time on. I like the concept of the...

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Denver outspends everyone on this

Someone at the Wall Street Journal noticed that Denver's transit agency has outspent other top transit agencies, after accounting for number of rides -- and by a huge margin. But the accompanying graphic conspires against the journalist. For one thing, Denver is at the bottom of the page. Denver's two bars do not stand out in any way. New York's transit system dwarfs everyone else in both number of rides...

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If Clinton and Trump go to dinner, do they sit face to face, or side by side?

One of my students tipped me to an August article in the Economist, published when last the media proclaimed Donald Trump's campaign in deep water. The headline said "Donald Trump's Media Advantage Falters." Who would have known, judging from the chart that accompanies the article? There is something very confusing about the red line, showing "Trump August 2015 = 1." The data are disaggregated by media channel, and yet the...

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