Convention

105 posts
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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The unspoken rules of visualization

My latest is at DataJournalism.com. It's an essay on the following observation: The efficiency and multidimensionality of the visual medium arise from a set of conventions and rules, which regularises the communications between producers of data visualisation and its consumers. These conventions and rules are often unspoken: it's the visual equivalent of saying ’it goes without saying’ . There are lots of little things visualization designers do in their sleep...

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When design goes awry

One can't accuse the following chart of lacking design. Strong is the evidence of departing from convention but the design decisions appear wayward. (The original link on Money here)   The donut chart (right) has nine sections. Eight of the sections (excepting A) have clearly all been bent out of shape. It turns out that section A does not have the right size either. The middle gray circle is not...

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Political winds and hair styling

Washington Post (link) and New York Times (link) published dueling charts last week, showing the swing-swang of the political winds in the U.S. Of course, you know that the pendulum has shifted riotously rightward towards Republican red in this election. The Post focused its graphic on the urban / not urban division within the country: Over Twitter, Lazaro Gamio told me they are calling these troll-hair charts. You certainly can...

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Depicting imbalance, straying from the standard chart

My friend Tonny M. sent me a tip to two pretty nice charts depicting the state of U.S. healthcare spending (link). The first shows U.S. as an outlier: This chart is a replica of the Lane Kenworthy chart, with some added details, that I have praised here before. This chart remains one of the most impactful charts I have seen. The added time-series details allow us to see a divergence...

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Raining, data art, if it ain’t broke

Via Twitter, reader Joe D. asked a few of us to comment on the SparkRadar graphic by WeatherSpark. At the time of writing, the picture for Baltimore is very pretty: The picture for New York is not as pretty but still intriguing. We are having a bout of summer and hence the white space (no precipitation): Interpreting this innovative chart is a tough task - this is a given with...

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Happy new year. Did you have a white Christmas?

Happy 2016. I spent time with the family in California, wiping out any chance of a white Christmas, although I hear that the probability would have been miniscule even had I stayed. I did come across a graphic that tried to drive the point home, via NOAA. Unfortunately, this reminded me a little of the controversial Florida gun-deaths chart (see here):   In this graphic, the designer played with the...

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