Revisiting global car sales

We looked at the following chart in the previous blog. The data concern the growth rates of car sales in different regions of the world over time. Here is a different visualization of the same data. Well, it's not quite the same data. I divided the global average growth rate by four to yield an approximation of the true global average. (The reason for this is explained in the other...

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This Excel chart looks standard but gets everything wrong

The following CNBC chart (link) shows the trend of global car sales by region (or so we think). This type of chart is quite common in finance/business circles, and has the fingerprint of Excel. After examining it, I nominate it for the Hall of Shame. *** The chart has three major components vying for our attention: (1) the stacked columns, (2) the yellow line, and (3) the big red dashed...

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This chart tells you how rich is rich – if you can read it

Via twitter, John B. sent me the following YouGov chart (link) that he finds difficult to read: The title is clear enough: the higher your income, the higher you set the bar. When one then moves from the title to the chart, one gets misdirected. The horizontal axis shows pound values, so the axis naturally maps to "the higher your income". But it doesn't. Those pound values are the "cutoff"...

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How to read this cost-benefit chart, and why it is so confusing

Long-time reader Antonio R. found today's chart hard to follow, and he isn't alone. It took two of us multiple emails and some Web searching before we think we "got it".   Antonio first encountered the chart in a book review (link) of Hal Harvey et. al, Designing Climate Solutions. It addresses the general topic of costs and benefits of various programs to abate CO2 emissions. The reviewer praised the...

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Graph literacy, in a sense

Ben Jones tweeted out this chart, which has an unusual feature: What's unusual is that time runs in both directions. Usually, the rule is that time runs left to right (except, of course, in right-to-left cultures). Here, the purple area chart follows that convention while the yellow area chart inverts it. On the one hand, this is quite cute. Lines meeting in the middle. Converging. I get it. On the...

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Marketers want millennials to know they’re millennials

When I posted about the lack of a standard definition of "millennials", Dean Eckles tweeted about the arbitrary division of age into generational categories. His view is further reinforced by the following chart, courtesy of PewResearch by way of MarketingCharts.com. Pew asked people what generation they belong to. The amount of people who fail to place themselves in the right category is remarkable. One way to interpret this finding is...

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Light entertainment: people of color

What colors do the "average" person like the most and the least? The following chart found here (Scott Design) tells you favorite and least favorite colors by age groups: (This is one of a series of charts. A total of 10 colors is covered by the survey. The same color can appear in both favorites and least favorites since these are aggregate proportions. Almost 40% of the respondents are under...

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Who is a millennial? An example of handling uncertainty

I found this fascinating chart from CNBC, which attempts to nail down the definition of a millennial. It turns out everyone defines "millennials" differently. They found 23 different definitions. Some media outlets apply different definitions in different items. I appreciate this effort a lot. The design is thoughtful. In making this chart, the designer added the following guides: The text draws attention to the definition with the shortest range of...

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The rule governing which variable to put on which axis, served a la mode

When making a scatter plot, the two variables should not be placed arbitrarily. There is a rule governing this: the outcome variable should be shown on the vertical axis (also called y-axis), and the explanatory variable on the horizontal (or x-) axis. This chart from the archives of the Economist has this reversed: The title of the accompanying article is "Ice Cream and IQ"... In a Trifecta Checkup (link), it's...

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Statistical significance explainer, and Instagram’s experiment to hide Likes

There are some statistical concepts that all data visualization practitioners should know about, and the concept of statistical significance is one of them. It's a hard concept to grasp because it requires one to think beyond the data that are collected. The abstract thinking is necessary since we typically want to make general statements - while using the collected data as evidence. My new video in the Data Science: The...

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