Beautiful But Terrible Population Pyramids

These are the population pyramids (and half-pyramids…) of some more or less randomly selected countries. Each series displays population by age group (both sexes) in a given year, from 1981 (darker color) to 2050 (lighter color). The charts share the same scales (5-year age groups from 0 to 100+ in the y axis, and 0% – 20% in the […]

Change Bad Charts in the Wikipedia

Corporate annual reports and the Wikipedia are two great resources to find really bad charts. We can’t do much about corporate reports, but we can actually change the Wikipedia articles. So, here is an assignment for you: find a bad chart and replace it with one that actually makes sense from a data visualization point of view. Do it […]

10,000 Steps for a Healthier (Data Visualization) Lifestyle

Get a cheap pedometer and a pair of comfortable walking shoes and walk 10,000 steps per day. It you don’t want to be an Olympic champion that’s all you need to improve your wellness and raise awareness towards a healthier lifestyle.

If 10,000 seem too much don’t worry. Just keep the pedometer in your pocket and you’ll start finding new […]

By |June 7th, 2011|Design|1 Comment|

The health benefits of line charts

I recently bought a pedometer to make sure I walk at least those recommended 10,000 steps a day. As you can see, there is a strong variation, and no meaningful pattern is emerging. Now that I’m blogging about it, I’m sure that will happen soon :).

It’s commonly accepted that, when displaying a time series, you should use line charts […]

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    Your glossy chart is more than that: it’s how you see the World.

Your glossy chart is more than that: it’s how you see the World.

The French call it l’air du temps, the spirit of the times. You breathe it, you wear it, you eat it. You can’t escape it. Over the last 20 years, the spirit of our times gave us things like:
Glossy Pie Chart



Jeremy Clarkson:
“The X6 was conceived at a time when we all thought the banks know what they were […]

By |April 24th, 2011|Context|1 Comment|

Highest Mountains, Deepest Trenches, and a Doughnut

A while ago something broke inside me. My deepest held beliefs were shattered. I started drinking again. Absinthe. I love absinthe. 69% ABV.

It started when I saw it. A glorious pie chart displaying growth rates. Growth! At first, I couldn’t believe it. I took off my glasses. Yes, growth rates. In a pie chart. I had to try it. Unemployment rates. […]

Too Many Tools, Too Much Grammar, Too Little Sense

If you want to improve your data visualization skills you should think of it as a foreign language, where you use data points instead of words, charts instead of sentences, dashboards instead of paragraphs, axis and labels instead of punctuation marks.

It has its own grammar, created by Bertin and improved by Tufte, Few, Cleveland and others, and a pseudo-grammar, […]

By |March 31st, 2011|Design|Comments Off on Too Many Tools, Too Much Grammar, Too Little Sense|

Don’t Make me Think (About Your Charts)!

I’d love to make my broken English more Tufte-compliant. I’d love to make the design of more Tufte-compliant. I’d love to make my home office, my lifestyle, my… you’ve got the point. It should be easy: here is a framework I am comfortable with, now I just need to translate it. It isn’t. I’m not alone: bloggers-about-blogging can’t […]

By |February 9th, 2011|Design|Comments Off on Don’t Make me Think (About Your Charts)!|

Creating More Effective Graphs [Book Review]

If you are a graphic designer you already know too much about beauty and aesthetics. If you want to play with data it’s time to grow up and learn some real graphs. I mean it. And I have the ideal book you: Creating More Effective Graphs, by Naomi B. Robbins.
First Impressions

Color: No color;
Fancy graphs: None;
Book cover: an […]

Data Visualization Hierarchy of Needs

Is it possible to create a “data visualization hierarchy of needs” like Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs? I’ve tried that in the pyramid above. Here are the details:

Is it the right Medium? A chart can really help processing data and minimize information overload, but what about “chart overload”? Don’t make a chart if you don’t need one, and make […]

By |January 24th, 2011|Design|11 Comments|