Trifecta checkup

41 posts
The rule governing which variable to put on which axis, served a la mode

When making a scatter plot, the two variables should not be placed arbitrarily. There is a rule governing this: the outcome variable should be shown on the vertical axis (also called y-axis), and the explanatory variable on the horizontal (or x-) axis. This chart from the archives of the Economist has this reversed: The title of the accompanying article is "Ice Cream and IQ"... In a Trifecta Checkup (link), it's...

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Does this chart tell the sordid tale of T1’s decline?

The Hustle has an interesting article on the demise of the T1 calculator, which is popular in business circles. The article uses this bar chart: From a Trifecta Checkup perspective, this is a Type DV chart. (See this guide to the Trifecta Checkup.) The chart addresses a nice question: is the T1 graphing calculator a victim of new technologies? The visual design is marred by the use of the calculator...

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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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This Wimbledon beauty will be ageless

This Financial Times chart paints the picture of the emerging trend in Wimbledon men’s tennis: the average age of players has been rising, and hits 30 years old for the first time ever in 2019. The chart works brilliantly. Let's look at the design decisions that contributed to its success. The chart contains a good amount of data and the presentation is carefully layered, with the layers nicely tied to...

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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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Tightening the bond between the message and the visual: hello stats-cats

The editors of ASA's Amstat News certainly got my attention, in a recent article on school counselling. A research team asked two questions. The first was HOW ARE YOU FELINE? Stats and cats. The pun got my attention and presumably also made others stop and wonder. The second question was HOW DO YOU REMEMBER FEELING while you were taking a college statistics course? Well, it's hard to imagine the average...

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Wayward legend takes sides in a chart of two sides, plus data woes

Reader Chris P. submitted the following graph, found on Axios: From a Trifecta Checkup perspective, the chart has a clear question: are consumers getting what they wanted to read in the news they are reading? Nevertheless, the chart is a visual mess, and the underlying data analytics fail to convince. So, it’s a Type DV chart. (See this overview of the Trifecta Checkup for the taxonomy.) *** The designer did...

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Morphing small multiples to investigate Sri Lanka’s religions

Earlier this month, the bombs in Sri Lanka led to some data graphics in the media, educating us on the religious tensions within the island nation. I like this effort by Reuters using small multiples to show which religions are represented in which districts of Sri Lanka (lifted from their twitter feed): The key to reading this map is the top legend. From there, you'll notice that many of the...

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A data graphic that solves a consumer problem

Saw this great little sign at Ippudo, the ramen shop, the other day: It's a great example of highly effective data visualization. The names on the board are sake brands.  The menu (a version of a data table) is the conventional way of displaying this information. The Question Customers are selecting a sake. They don't have a favorite, or don't recognize many of these brands. They know a bit about...

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How to describe really small chances

Reader Aleksander B. sent me to the following chart in the Daily Mail, with the note that "the usage of area/bubble chart in combination with bar alignment is not very useful." (link) One can't argue with that statement. This chart fails the self-sufficiency test: anyone reading the chart is reading the data printed on the right column, and does not gain anything from the visual elements (thus, the visual representation...

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