Blog

Charting tips 002: Consider the task at hand

Suppose you are sharing a list of orders with some co-workers. One of them wants to see the higher sales orders [list]. Another one wants to know how much was exported to France [table]. The next one needs the average items per order [descriptive statistics]. You want to see the growth trend for several products [chart]. Only one of […]

By |November 2nd, 2007|Design|8 Comments|

Charting tips 001: Do you really need a chart?

A chart is just one of the available tools to communicate and help you and your audience to understand the data; sometimes using a chart is just plain wrong: if variation seems random or non-existent, what’s the point of displaying the data graphically (yes, I know, sometimes that’s what you want to show)? So, take a […]

By |November 2nd, 2007|Context|0 Comments|

Is Crystal Xcelsius a toy piano?

Pascal Comelade, a french musician, plays toy pianos for a living. How many of us could do the same? How many of us could (professionally) use toys instead of our standard, grown-up tools?

Now imagine that a toy maker starts marketing their toys as serious musical instruments. How would Beethoven’s 5th Symphony sound like? At first, it would be funny […]

By |October 28th, 2007|Dashboards|9 Comments|

Pie charts: a neverending discussion

We all know how found of pie charts Tufte is:
A table is nearly always better than a dumb pie chart; the only worse design than a pie chart is several of them, for then the viewer is asked to compare quantities located in spatial disarray both within and between charts (…). Given their low density and failure to […]

XCelsius Dashboard: the population pyramid

Can my Excel Demographic Dashboard be recreated in Crystal XCelsius? This is the main theme for this series of posts. In the first post I set the stage, define the rules and show how the basic “demographic KPI’s” can be displayed using gauges. The second post discusses one of the major drawbacks I find in XCelsius and similar […]

By |October 22nd, 2007|Dashboards|6 Comments|

Sort and proportions in bar charts

This chart [via Junk Charts] in the New York Times uses a “tornado” chart (a population pyramid-like chart) to display two series, advertising spending in measured (traditional media) and unmeasured (Internet…) channels.

When discussing how to create population pyramids, I wrote that I don’t really like tornado charts, specially if you only have two series, because it takes up […]

By |October 15th, 2007|Chart Types|2 Comments|

How I won the Nobel Prize

Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Why?

Why Al Gore? Thousands of scientists have been warning about the climate change for years. Why not them? Because of his political weight? Of course, but not only that. Because he learned (the hard way) how to communicate with people. Communicate visually, show, more […]

By |October 12th, 2007|Design|1 Comment|

Design and information visualization: two worlds apart

Yes, I know about the Malofiej awards and the Society for News Design. Yes, I know that there are many many designers out there that really care about the data and use their skills to communicate effectively, sometimes with awesome results.

Sacrificing data on the altar of Beauty

But for many many more, data is an annoying relative that can/should happily […]

By |October 11th, 2007|Context|2 Comments|

How-to screencasts: Population pyramids in Excel

Screencast: How to create a population pyramid in Excel.
I am a big fan of screencasts, as a regular reader of this blog may have already noticed. They are great at showing how to use a tool to get something done and they are the best companions for tutorial (e-)books.

This hypotetical regular reader might also guess from my previous […]

Sparklines, Excel, Crystal Xcelsius and stealth-mode charts

You struggle every single day to design the best, the most eye-catching chart for the next presentation. If your goal is to impress your boss, you can stop reading, I have nothing new to offer, I can’t even impress mine. But if you really want to understand your data, there is some (hopefully) interesting stuff below.

Charts 101: […]

By |October 4th, 2007|Design|8 Comments|