Design

147 posts
Visually displaying multipliers

As I'm preparing a blog about another real-world study of Covid-19 vaccines, I came across the following chart (the chart title is mine). As background, this is the trend in Covid-19 cases in the U.K. in the last couple of months, courtesy of OurWorldinData.org. The React-1 Study sends swab kits to randomly selected people in England in order to assess the prevalence of Covid-19. Every month, there is a new...

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Stumped by the ATM

The neighborhood bank recently installed brand new ATMs, with tablet monitors and all that jazz. Then, I found myself staring at this screen: I wanted to withdraw $100. I ordinarily love this banknote picker because I can get the $5, $10, $20 notes, instead of $50 and $100 that come out the slot when I don't specify my preference. Something changed this time. I find myself wondering which row represents...

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Writing about probability in a way that people will understand

We see probabilities mentioned in the news, in weather forecasts, during sporting events, political arguments, business reports, elections, medical advice, and scientific findings. But probability is a tricky concept that not all (most?) people understand. Grace Huckins for The Open Notebook outlines useful ways to communicate the numbers more clearly — to increase the chances readers do understand. On using concrete numbers over percentages: Concrete numbers can also make statistics...

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Visualization accessibility

Øystein Moseng for Highcharts provides a brief guide on making your visualizations for accessible. Guideline #4 on not relying completely on color to show the data: Relying on color as the only means of communicating information is a failure of one of the basic WCAG success criteria. This is because many users may not be able to distinguish between the different colors used. Data labels, symbols, annotations and tooltips are...

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Metaphors, maps, and communicating data

There are some data visualization that are obviously bad. But what makes them bad? Here is an example of such an effort: This visualization of carbon emissions is not successful. There is precious little that a reader can learn from this chart without expensing a lot of effort. It's relatively easy to identify the largest emitters of carbon but since the data are not expressed per-capita, the chart mainly informs...

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Varying colors of state guidance maps

Many states use color to represent levels of Covid-19 and/or county restrictions. The color scales states use vary across the country. For The New York Times, Caity Weaver details the usage and the challenges of picking meaningful scales. Tags: Caity Weaver, color, coronavirus, New York Times

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Pies, bars and self-sufficiency

Andy Cotgreave asked Twitter followers to pick between pie charts and bar charts: The underlying data are proportions of people who say they won't get the coronavirus vaccine. I noticed two somewhat unusual features: the use of pies to show single proportions, and the aspect ratio of the bars (taller than typical). Which version is easier to understand? To answer this question, I like to apply a self-sufficiency test. This...

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Which color scale to use for your charts

On a superficial level, color scale selection seems like a straightforward task. Pick a sequence of colors that looks like it goes from light to dark. Done. But right when you get into it, you might find the process isn’t so straightforward. Different color scales can represent different aspects of your data, and poor selection can lead to poor communication. So, Lisa Charlotte Rost for Datawrapper wrote a four-part practical...

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Making graphics last over time

Yesterday, I analyzed the data visualization by the White House showing the progress of U.S. Covid-19 vaccinations. Here is the chart. John who tweeted this at me, saying "please get a better data viz". I'm happy to work with them or the CDC on better dataviz. Here's an example of what I do. Obviously, I'm using made-up data here and this is a sketch. I want to design a chart...

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Reading an infographic about our climate crisis

Let's explore an infographic by SCMP, which draws attention to the alarming temperature recorded at Verkhoyansk in Russia on June 20, 2020. The original work was on the back page of the printed newspaper, referred to in this tweet. This view of the globe brings out the two key pieces of evidence presented in the infographic: the rise in temperature in unexpected places, and the shrinkage of the Arctic ice....

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