Comparability

48 posts
Bubble charts, ratios and proportionality

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a challenger to the dominant weedkiller, Roundup, contains a nice selection of graphics. (Dicamba is the up-and-comer.) The change in usage of three brands of weedkillers is rendered as a small-multiples of choropleth maps. This graphic displays geographical and time changes simultaneously. The staircase chart shows weeds have become resistant to Roundup over time. This is considered a weakness in the...

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All these charts lament the high prices charged by U.S. hospitals

A former student asked me about this chart from the New York Times that highlights much higher prices of hospital procedures in the U.S. relative to a comparison group of seven countries. The dot plot is clearly thought through. It is not a default chart that pops out of software. Based on its design, we surmise that the designer has the following intentions: The names of the medical procedures are...

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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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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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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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Women workers taken for a loop or four

I was drawn to the following chart in Business Insider because of the calendar metaphor. (The accompanying article is here.) Sometimes, the calendar helps readers grasp concepts faster but I'm afraid the usage here slows us down. The underlying data consist of just four numbers: the wage gaps between race and gender in the U.S., considered simply from an aggregate median personal income perspective. The analyst adopts the median annual...

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Powerful photos visualizing housing conditions in Hong Kong

I was going to react to Alberto's post about the New York Times's article about economic inequality in Hong Kong, which is proposed as one origin to explain the current protest movement. I agree that the best graphic in this set is the "photoviz" showing the "coffins" or "cages" that many residents live in, because of the population density.  Then I searched the archives, and found this old post from...

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What is a bad chart?

In the recent issue of Madolyn Smith’s Conversations with Data newsletter hosted by DataJournalism.com, she discusses “bad charts,” featuring submissions from several dataviz bloggers, including myself. What is a “bad chart”? Based on this collection of curated "bad charts", it is not easy to nail down “bad-ness”. The common theme is the mismatch between the message intended by the designer and the message received by the reader, a classic error...

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Three estimates, two differences trip up an otherwise good design

Reader Fernando P. was baffled by this chart from the Perception Gap report by More in Common. (link to report) Overall, this chart is quite good. Its flaws are subtle. There is so much going on, perhaps even the designer found it hard to keep level. The title is "Democrat's Perception Gap" which actually means the gap between Democrats' perception of Republicans and Republican's self-reported views. We are talking about...

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