Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How not to Chart Data

Disclaimer: When wrapping up a project my bitterness always increases.

Ok, so when I see this report by Fed Economists, I just react.

What's wrong with this?
  1. Each graph, individually, is nearly impossible to read (no sort, legends are super small).
  2. All the graphs, taken together, are DEFINITELY impossible to read.
This is some Fed PhD economist (and a macro one at that, the most dismal of the economist scientists) you know, the type that probably barely sees the real world but loves huge sets of numbers.  He started with a table, with 12 rows (categories) and 11 columns (categories, 9 years plus 1 total), and created a bunch of charts that are totally undreadable.

Understandable Data + This Guy's Effort = Data that is Impossible to Understand

Information Visualization people like me win these battles every time, but it feels like we're losing a war out there.  For every well thought-out, well-structured chart, I see thousands that look like this.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

first instinct was stacked column chart with connectors between each segment (years on x axis, categories on y). thoughts?

Consultant Ninja said...

Agreed. so simple, yet so right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009