economics

48 posts
Starstruck and doubled over: losing poise over Indian charts

Twitter follower @ashwink_s didn't see eye-to-eye with the following charts that appeared in an Indian publication. There is the infamous racetrack chart: In the racetrack chart, the designer has embedded data in the angles at the center of the concentric circles but the visual cues point to the arc lengths. If the same proportion of people voted Yes as voted No, the two arcs should look like this: The length...

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Another simple Excel chart needs help

Twitter friend Jimmy A. asked if I can help Elon Musk make this chart "more readable". Let's start with a couple of things he did right. Placing SpaceX, his firm's data, at the bottom of the chart is perfect, as the bottom part of a stacked column chart is the only part that is immediately readable. Combining all of Europe into one category and Other U.S. into one group reduce...

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The art of arranging bars

Twitter friend Janie H. asked how I would visualize a hypothetical third column of this chart that contains the change from 2016 to 2017: This table records the results from a survey question by eMarketer, asking respondents ("marketers") to identify their top 5 technology priorities in the next 12 months. I suggested the following: A hype-chasing phenomemon is clearly at play. Internet of Things and wearable technology are so last...

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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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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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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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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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It’s your fault when you use defaults

The following chart showed up on my Twitter feed last week. It's a cautionary tale for using software defaults.  At first glance, the stacking of years in a bar chart makes little sense. This is particularly so when there appears not to be any interesting annual trend: the four segments seem to have roughly equal length almost everywhere. This designer might be suffering from what I have called "loss aversion"...

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Confuse, confuses, confused, confusing

Via Twitter, @Stoltzmaniac sent me this chart, from the Economist (link to article): There is simply too much going on on the right side of the chart. The designer seems not to be able to decide which metric is more important, the cumulative growth rate of vehicles in use from 2005 to 2014, or the vehicles per 1,000 people in 2014. So both set of numbers are placed on the...

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