Browsing articles tagged with " pie chart"

Stupidest Bar Chart of 2011 – Congrats, Klout!

Dec 22, 2011   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Snark  //  10 Comments

I’m no expert in graphic design or data visualizations.  I do know that pie charts are evil, as are most gauges and uses of 3D in dashboards.   However, when I saw this bar chart from the fine folks at Klout, I knew it was a winner.  Even the name of this category is wrong: Top Influential companies?  No, from their description, this is a list of companies that were most talked about the most often.  That doesn’t make a person or an organization influential.  Otherwise, I’d be dressing like Kim Kardashian and collecting Justin Bieber dolls with weird "try me" portals

At best, these companies influenced people to say things about them by doing something well…or in the case of Netflix, doing a lot of things poorly.  But they didn’t do the influencing.  People on the social networks did.

 

KLOUT bar chart - click to see full chart

 

This data visualization is a list of companies who were most talked about…so they’ve used a bar chart.  Bar charts are supposed to be used to show quantities, usually over time or some other measure.  But this ranking  is not a quantity.  In fact, the bar chart is emphasizing the wrong thing, too.  Notice how 11th place Facebook has more bar?  But it’s in the worst place in the list.  Or is it?  We don’t know because the bar chart is showing us conflicting information.  It could be that the top 11 companies are being ranked 11-1 in descending order based on their influence mentions.  From the list, I’d think think that the influence was descending, but I don’t know.  If someone doesn’t know and the visualization adds no more insight than just a list of the companies, don’t add a chart.

Jen Stirrup, BI expert and Microsoft MVP, has some more to say about bad bar charts. 

Don’t use bar charts to show rankings.  Put down your data viz tool and take a walk.  Notice the real world around you, then come back and think about using visualizations to help a reader understand the data better. That’s how to love your data.

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