Design

153 posts
Visualizing composite ratings

A twitter reader submitted the following chart from Autoevolution (link): This is not a successful chart for the simple reason that readers want to look away from it. It's too busy. There is so much going on that one doesn't know where to look. The underlying dataset is quite common in the marketing world. Through surveys, people are asked to rate some product along a number of dimensions (here, seven)....

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Visual design is hard, brought to you by NYC subway

This poster showed up in a NY subway train recently. Visual design is hard! What is the message? The intention is, of course, to say Rootine is better than others. (That's the Q corner, if you're following the Trifecta Checkup.) What is the visual telling us (V corner)? It says Rootine is yellow while Others are purple. What do these color mean? There is no legend to help decipher it....

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To explain or to eliminate, that is the question

Today, I take a look at another project from Ray Vella's class at NYU. (The above image is a honeypot for "smart" algorithms that don't know how to handle image dimensions which don't fit their shadow "requirement". Human beings should proceed to the full image below.) As explained in this post, the students visualized data about regional average incomes in a selection of countries. It turns out that remarkable differences...

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The gift of small edits and subtraction

While making the chart on fertility rates (link), I came across a problem that pops up quite often, and is  ignored by most software programs. Here is an earlier version of the chart I later discarded: Compare this to the version I published in the blog post: Aside from adding the chart title, there is one major change. I removed the empty plots from the grid. This is a visualization...

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Visualizing fertility rates around the globe

The following chart dropped on my Twitter feed. It's an ambitious chart that tries to do a lot. The underlying data set contains fertility rate data from over 200 countries over 20 years. The basic chart form is a column chart that is curled up into a ball. The column chart is given colors that map to continents. All countries are grouped into five continents. The column chart can only...

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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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