Web/Tech

47 posts
And you thought that pie chart was bad…

Vying for some of the worst charts of the year, Adobe came up with a few gems in its Digital Trends Survey. This was a tip from Nolan H. on Twitter. There are many charts that should be featured; I'll focus on this one. This is one of those survey questions that allow each respondent to select multiple responses so that adding up the percentages exceeds 100%. The survey asks...

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Re-engineering #onelesspie

Marco tweeted the following pie chart to me (tip from Danilo), which is perfect since today is Pi Day, and I have to do my #onelesspie duty. This started a few years ago with Xan Gregg. This chart supposedly was published in an engineering journal. I don't have a clue what the question might be that this chart is purportedly answering. Maybe the reason for picking a cellphone? The particular...

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Avoid concentric circles

A twitter follower sent me this chart by way of Munich: The logo of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) is quite cute. It looks like an ear. Perhaps that inspired this, em, staggered donut chart. I like to straighten curves out so the donut chart becomes a bar chart: The blue and gray bars mimic the lengths of the arcs in the donut chart. The yellow bars show the relative...

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Election visuals 4: the snake pit is the best election graphic ever

This is the final post on the series of data visualization deployed by FiveThirtyEight to explain their election forecasting model. The previous posts are here, here and here. I'm saving the best for last. This snake-pit chart brings me great joy - I wish I came up with it! This chart wins by focusing on a limited set of questions, and doing so excellently. As with many election observers, we...

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Election visuals 2: informative and playful

In yesterday's post, I reviewed one section of 538's visualization of its election forecasting model, specifically, the post focuses on the probability plot visualization. The visualization, technically called  a pdf, is a mainstay of statistical graphics. While every one of 40,000 scenarios shows up on this chart, it doesn't offer a direct answer to our topline question. What is Nate's call at this point in time? Elsewhere in their post,...

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The hidden bad assumption behind most dual-axis time-series charts

DC sent me the following chart over Twitter. It supposedly showcases one sector that has bucked the economic collapse, and has conversely been boosted by the stay-at-home orders around the world. At first glance, I was drawn to the yellow line and the axis title on the right side. I understood the line to depict the growth rate in traffic "vs a normal day". The trend is clear as day....

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Proportions and rates: we are no dupes

Reader Lucia G. sent me this chart, from Ars Technica's FAQ about the coronavirus: She notices something wrong with the axis. The designer took the advice not to make a dual axis, but didn't realize that the two metrics are not measured on the same scale even though both are expressed as percentages. The blue bars, labeled "cases", is a distribution of cases by age group. The sum of the...

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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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Habit-busting designs don’t work

The design changes that most frustrate users are those that bust their habits. Case in point. Apple re-designed the bottom navigator of the iphone mail app. See what it looked like before and what it looks like today: Notice how the 2nd slot from the bottom right used to be for replying, and after the re-design, it has become the button for deleting. So when I intended to reply to...

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