Why do people make so many bad charts?

I refuse to believe that a moderately clever person makes a 3D chart to get better insights from the data. The real reasons behind this behavior have nothing to do with data visualization, and impression management is one of them. Maybe this can be confirmed by research on basic needs, like eating. Wired published this … Read more

Data Visualization Bimbos

Do you know that, according to Amazon, Tufte’s Envisioning Information is a best seller book in Design and Decorative Arts? This man fights all his life against decoration and one of his best books ends up on the Decorative Arts category? Life (or Amazon) does have a twisted sense of humor. Unless… Unless Amazon is plotting … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 ExcelCharts.com 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 … Read more

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 … Read more

Alphabetical Sorting Must Die

If you follow Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, you know I’m shamelessly stealing this post title from him. He says that most of the time a list is sorted alphabetically because a) it’s easier to find a name and b) designers are lazy and don’t want to bother finding a better sorting key. While he writes from … Read more

Data Visualization, Ikea style

Seven years ago, my wife and I drove 400 miles to the nearest Ikea store and bought furniture for the entire house. Today we have two stores in our city. Things change. Last week we bought a large, wall-to-wall bookcase and replaced some of the old stuff. I don’t really mind to assemble Ikea furniture. … Read more

Memorable Charts? Forget About It!

This too much discussed paper “found that people’s accuracy in describing the embellished charts was no worse than for plain charts, and that their recall after a two-to-three week gap was significantly better. In addition, participants preferred the embellished charts“. OK, let’s take a deep breath. Apparently, all things being equal, you should use a … Read more