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48 posts
The epidemic of simple comparisons

Another day, another Twitter user sent a sloppy chart featured on TV news. This CNN graphic comes from Hugo K. by way of Kevin T. And it's another opportunity to apply the self-sufficiency test. Like before, I removed the data printed on the graphic. In reading this chart, we like to know the number of U.S. reported cases of coronavirus relative to China, and Italy relative to the U.S. So,...

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Graphing the economic crisis of Covid-19

My friend Ray Vella at The Conference Board has a few charts up on their coronavirus website. TCB is a trusted advisor and consultant to large businesses and thus is a good place to learn how the business community is thinking about this crisis. I particularly like the following chart: This puts the turmoil in the stock market in perspective. We are roughly tracking the decline of the Great Recession...

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Proportions and rates: we are no dupes

Reader Lucia G. sent me this chart, from Ars Technica's FAQ about the coronavirus: She notices something wrong with the axis. The designer took the advice not to make a dual axis, but didn't realize that the two metrics are not measured on the same scale even though both are expressed as percentages. The blue bars, labeled "cases", is a distribution of cases by age group. The sum of the...

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Comparing chance of death of coronavirus and flu

The COVID-19 charts are proving one thing. When the topic of a dataviz is timely and impactful, readers will study the graphics and ask questions. I've been sent some of these charts lately, and will be featuring them here. A former student saw this chart from Business Insider (link) and didn't like it. My initial reaction was generally positive. It's clear the chart addresses a comparison between death rates of...

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It’s impossible to understand Super Tuesday, this chart says

Twitter people are talking about this chart, from NPR (link): This was published on Wednesday after Super Tuesday, the day on which multiple states held their primary elections. On the Democratic side, something like a third of the delegates were up for grabs (although as the data below this chart shows, a big chunk of the delegates, mostly from California and Texas, have yet to be assigned to a candidate...

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Bad data leave chart hanging by the thread

IGNITE National put out a press release saying that Gen Z white men are different from all other race-gender groups because they are more likely to be or lean Republican. The evidence is in this chart: Or is it? Following our Trifecta Checkup framework (link), let's first look at the data. White men is the bottom left group. Democratic = 42%, Independent = 28%, Republican = 48%. That's a total...

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Too many colors on a chart is bad, but why?

The following chart is bad, but how so? The chart is annoying because of the misuse of colors. What is the purpose of the multiple colors used in this chart? It's not encoding any data. Colors are used here to differentiate one bar from its two neighbors. Or perhaps to make the chart more "appealing". The reason why the coloring scheme backfires is that readers may look for meaning in...

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Food coma and self-sufficiency in dataviz

The Hustle wrote a strong analysis of the business of buffets. If you've read my analysis of Groupon's business model in Numbersense (link), you'll find some similarities. A key is to not think of every customer as an average customer; there are segments of customers who behave differently, and creating a proper mix of different types of customers is the management's challenge. I will make further comments on the statistics...

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Taking small steps to bring out the message

Happy new year! Good luck and best wishes! *** We'll start 2020 with something lighter. On a recent flight, I saw a chart in The Economist that shows the proportion of operating income derived from overseas markets by major grocery chains - the headline said that some of these chains are withdrawing from international markets. The designer used one color for each grocery chain, and two shades within each color....

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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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