An exercise in decluttering

My friend Xan found the following chart by Pew hard to understand. Why is the chart so taxing to look at?  It's packing too much. I first notice the shaded areas. Shading usually signifies "look here". On this chart, the shading is highlighting the least important part of the data. Since the top line shows applicants and the bottom line admitted students, the shaded gap displays the rejections. The numbers...

0 0
The Bumps come to the NBA, courtesy of 538

The team at 538 did a post-mortem of their in-season forecasts of NBA playoffs, using Bumps charts. These charts have a long history and can be traced back to Cambridge rowing. I featured them in these posts from a long time ago (link 1, link 2).  Here is the Bumps chart for the NBA West Conference showing all 15 teams, and their ranking by the 538 model throughout the season. ...

0 0
A data graphic that solves a consumer problem

Saw this great little sign at Ippudo, the ramen shop, the other day: It's a great example of highly effective data visualization. The names on the board are sake brands.  The menu (a version of a data table) is the conventional way of displaying this information. The Question Customers are selecting a sake. They don't have a favorite, or don't recognize many of these brands. They know a bit about...

0 0
How to describe really small chances

Reader Aleksander B. sent me to the following chart in the Daily Mail, with the note that "the usage of area/bubble chart in combination with bar alignment is not very useful." (link) One can't argue with that statement. This chart fails the self-sufficiency test: anyone reading the chart is reading the data printed on the right column, and does not gain anything from the visual elements (thus, the visual representation...

0 0
The unreasonable effect of chart labels

In discussing the bar-density and pie-density charts with a buddy (thanks LB!), it became obvious that the labeling is a challenge. And he's right. Here is the pie-density chart for the Youtube views with the labels as originally conceived. These labels are trying too hard to provide precise data to the reader. Here are some simplified labels that get at the message rather than the data: Here is a slightly...

0 0
The Economist on the Economist: must read now

A visual data journalist at the Economist takes a critical eye on charts published by the Economist (link). This is a must read! (Hat tip: Fernando) Here are some of my commentary on past Economist charts.

0 0
Bar-density and pie-density plots for showing relative proportions

In my last post, I described a bar-density chart to show paired data of proportions with an 80/20-type rule. The following example illustrates that a small proportion of Youtubers generate a large proportion of views. Other examples of this type of data include: the top 10% of families own 75% of U.S. household wealth (link) the top 1% of artists earn 77% of recorded music income (link) Five percent of...

0 0
Visualizing the 80/20 rule, with the bar-density plot

Through Twitter, Danny H. submitted the following chart that shows a tiny 0.3 percent of Youtube creators generate almost 40 percent of all viewing on the platform. He asks for ideas about how to present lop-sided data that follow the "80/20" rule. In the classic 80/20 rule, 20 percent of the units account for 80 percent of the data. The percentages vary, so long as the first number is small...

0 0
Quick example of layering

The New York Times uses layering to place the Alabama tornadoes in context. (link) Today's wide availability of detailed data allows designers to create dense data graphics like this: The graphic shows the starting and ending locations and trajectory of each tornado, as well as the wind speeds (shown in color). Too much data slows down our understanding of the visual message. The remedy is to subtract. Here is a...

0 0
Book Preview: How Charts Lie, by Alberto Cairo

If you’re like me, your first exposure to data visualization was as a consumer. You may have run across a pie chart, or a bar chart, perhaps in a newspaper or a textbook. Thanks to the power of the visual language, you got the message quickly, and moved on. Few of us learned how to create charts from first principles. No one taught us about axes, tick marks, gridlines, or...

0 0