Cooking Better Charts

Templates and defaults are very useful when you are not a subject-matter expert. You don’t have to know much, but if you choose the wrong templates you are on the wrong track.

Cooking is a good example. I don’t know how to cook and, frankly, I don’t want to learn. But my wife is coming late from work, I’m tired […]

By |September 7th, 2009|Design|1 Comment|

Weltanschauung, Lies and Charts

It’s very easy to use charts to support false arguments, distortions, omissions or outright lies. But you can use words and statistics too. If you want to deceive nothing will stop you. (Required reading: How To Lie With Charts and How to Lie with Statistics).

Simple lies are often easy to spot and not very interesting. More interesting are our […]

By |August 19th, 2009|Design|6 Comments|

Data Visualization Personas

If you want to sell better data visualization practices you can’t use the same approach with everyone. Marketers use archetypes and like to create stories around them like if they were real people. Their marketing messages are then tailored for Jane (archetype #1) or Theresa (archetype #2).

Let’s try this. Allow me to introduce you to three of my […]

By |August 11th, 2009|Design|7 Comments|

Ads, Chartjunk and the Fart Machine

You know, I would really love to quit my day job and spend my time learning about information visualization, write about it, help people understand why good information visualization skills are relevant for their business.

Now, I could try to speed up things by selling some crappy affiliate products, fill up the blog with Google ads or use some other […]

By |August 3rd, 2009|Design|2 Comments|

Seth Godin Is Getting It…

From time to time, Seth Godin comes to visit our little field of information visualization, and I’m pleased to note that he is learning…

Today’s post, “How to make graphs that work” is remarkably better than “The three laws of great graphs” or “How to make a PowerPoint chart”. Today he warns  us against Excel and PowerPoint defaults and templates, […]

By |July 17th, 2009|Design|Comments Off|

Are Excel Charts Hurting Your Business? 10 Mistakes You Should Avoid.

Are Excel charts, and Excel in general, a commodity, with no competitive advantage? Only if you want it to. Why? Because a vast majority of users:

Have the data analysis skills of a toddler (or less);
Can’t go beyond chart defaults;
Functions? They know how to click the SUM() button;
Don’t know what a dynamic chart is;
Think pivot tables are too complex;
VBA? No […]

Charts: Monthly Unemployment Rates by State 1976-2009

Here are two ways to display a relatively large dataset, montly unemployment rates by state since 1976. The first one, above, is perfect to see the overall patterns, the range from the lowest to the highest, the outliers and the slopes. An interactive version would allow the user to highlight specific series.

A small-multiple version allows the user to focus […]

Just Another Stupid Bar Chart

Human creativity is virtually limitless. But:

You don’t vary color by data point.
You don’t force the eyes to a pendular movement if you can avoid it.
You don’t use a legend when you can use axis labels.
You can’t have a residual category that large.

Bloggers don’t seem to learn, even with a good teacher.

(Bar chart published in the ReadWriteWeb)

By |June 4th, 2009|Design|Comments Off|

Will you Help Me Write a Data Visualization E-Book (and Win a Free Copy)?

I’m writing an e-book, kind of “101 Data Visualization Questions You Were Afraid to Ask”, and I’d really appreciate your help. You just have to submit your data visualization question(s) using the contact form on the right (feel free to add additional suggestions or comments). The best 101 messages win a free copy of the e-book. And there may […]

Better Charts for Business: When Business Doesn’t Care

Most managers don’t care about a better visualization of business data. As a reader puts it:
Short of locking management in a room with Tufte and Few, how do I sell management on the value of seeing things differently?
Instead of trying to sell, let’s see why the aren’t buying. Here are some reasons.
Good Charts Are For Middle-Management
Making sense of a […]