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|

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|

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|

Excel Dashboards: Who Needs Them, Anyway?

You are not happy at work. I can clearly see that. Morale is low due to the economy, but it’s something else, isn’t it? You feel handcuffed. You keep hitting a wall. It hurts, hitting a wall while handcuffed…

You work with data. There is a formal BI tool in your organization, but it is unusable (IT is proud of […]

By |December 13th, 2010|Dashboards|35 Comments|

Anatomy of a Bad Chart

We often learn a lot more from bad examples than from the good ones. So, here is a really bad one (you can find many examples like this in corporate annual reports…). So, what’s wrong here?
What do they want to say?
If you don’t know what to say, you probably should keep your mouth shut. Are we supposed to compare […]

By |November 30th, 2010|Design|6 Comments|

Consistent dashboard design: write a simple sentence

You know that you should avoid the Crystal Xcelsius dashboard style, but now what? Where do you place your charts, kpi, tables?

Here is a trick that you can use: write a sentence or a paragraph that summarizes the core message. For example “Our sales are growing in an expanding market, and we are gaining market share, specially in these […]

By |November 29th, 2010|Dashboards|1 Comment|