Web/Tech

19 posts
Details, details, details: giving Zillow a pie treatment

This chart (shown right), published by Zillow in a report on housing in 2012, looks quite standard, apparently avoiding the worst of Excel defaults. In real estate, it’s all about location. In dataviz, it’s all about details. What are some details that I caught my eye on this chart? Readers have to get over the hurdle that “negative equity” is the same as “underwater homes.” This is not readily understood...

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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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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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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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Lines that delight, lines that blight

This WSJ graphic caught my eye. The accompanying article is here. The article (judging from the sub-header) makes two separate points, one about the total amount of money raised in IPOs in a year, and the change in market value of those newly-public companies one year from the IPO date. The first metric is shown by the size of the bubbles while the second metric is displayed as distances from...

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Round things, square things

The following chart traces the flow of funds into AI (artificial intelligence) startups. I found it on this webpage and it is attributed to Financial Times. Here, I apply the self-sufficiency test to show that the semicircles are playing no role in the visualization. When the numbers are removed, readers cannot understand the data at all. So the visual elements are toothless. Actually, it's worse. The data got encoded in...

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Counting the Olympic medals

Reader Conor H. sent in this daily medals table at the NBC website: He commented that the bars are not quite the right lengths. So even though China and Russia both won five total medals that day, the bar for China is slightly shorter. One issue with the stacked bar chart is that the reader's attention is drawn to the components rather that the whole. However, as is this case,...

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A Tufte fix for austerity

Trish, who attended one of my recent data visualization workshops, submitted a link to the Illinois Atlas of Austerity. Shown on the right is one of the charts included in the presentation. This is an example of a chart that fails my self-sufficiency test. There is no chance that readers are getting any information out of the graphical elements (the figurines of 100 people each). Everyone who tries to learn...

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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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