Axis

41 posts
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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Too much of a good thing

Several of us discussed this data visualization over twitter last week. The dataviz by Aero Data Lab is called “A Bird’s Eye View of Pharmaceutical Research and Development”. There is a separate discussion on STAT News. Here is the top section of the chart: We faced a number of hurdles in understanding this chart as there is so much going on. The size of the shapes is perhaps the first...

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Wayward legend takes sides in a chart of two sides, plus data woes

Reader Chris P. submitted the following graph, found on Axios: From a Trifecta Checkup perspective, the chart has a clear question: are consumers getting what they wanted to read in the news they are reading? Nevertheless, the chart is a visual mess, and the underlying data analytics fail to convince. So, it’s a Type DV chart. (See this overview of the Trifecta Checkup for the taxonomy.) *** The designer did...

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Clarifying comparisons in censored cohort data: UK housing affordability

If you're pondering over the following chart for five minutes or more, don't be ashamed. I took longer than that. The chart accompanied a Financial Times article about inter-generational fairness in the U.K. To cut to the chase, a recently released study found that younger generations are spending substantially higher proportions of their incomes to pay for housing costs. The FT article is here (behind paywall). FT actually slightly modified...

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Clarifying comparisons in censored cohort data: UK housing affordability

If you're pondering over the following chart for five minutes or more, don't be ashamed. I took longer than that. The chart accompanied a Financial Times article about inter-generational fairness in the U.K. To cut to the chase, a recently released study found that younger generations are spending substantially higher proportions of their incomes to pay for housing costs. The FT article is here (behind paywall). FT actually slightly modified...

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Re-thinking a standard business chart of stock purchases and sales

Here is a typical business chart. A possible story here: institutional investors are generally buying AMD stock, except in Q3 2018. Let's give this chart a three-step treatment. STEP 1: The Basics Remove the data labels, which stand sideways awkwardly, and are redundant given the axis labels. If the audience includes people who want to take the underlying data, then supply a separate data table. It's easier to copy and...

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Re-thinking a standard business chart of stock purchases and sales

Here is a typical business chart. A possible story here: institutional investors are generally buying AMD stock, except in Q3 2018. Let's give this chart a three-step treatment. STEP 1: The Basics Remove the data labels, which stand sideways awkwardly, and are redundant given the axis labels. If the audience includes people who want to take the underlying data, then supply a separate data table. It's easier to copy and...

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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...

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Check out the Lifespan of News project

Alberto Cairo introduces another one of his collaborations with Google, visualizing Google search data. We previously looked at other projects here. The latest project, designed by Schema, Axios, and Google News Initiative, tracks the trending of popular news stories over time and space, and it's a great example of making sense of a huge pile of data. The design team produced a sequence of graphics to illustrate the data. The...

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This chart advises webpages to add more words

A reader sent me the following chart. In addition to the graphical glitch, I was asked about the study's methodology. I was able to trace the study back to this page. The study uses a line chart instead of the bar chart with axis not starting at zero. The line shows that web pages ranked higher by Google on the first page tend to have more words, i.e. longer content...

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