Category Archives: Charts

Stephen Few: Now You See It

Portland

Readers:

Stephen_Few2I was in Portland, Oregon last week attending three data visualization workshops by industry expert, Stephen Few. I was very excited to be sitting at the foot of the master for three days and soak in all of this great dataviz information.

Last Thursday, was the third workshop, Now You See It which is based on Steve’s best-selling book (see photo below).

To not give away too much of what Steve is teaching in the workshops, I have decided to discuss one of our workshop topics, human perceptual and cognitive strengths.

You can find future workshops by Steve on his website, Perceptual Edge.

Best Regards,

Michael

Now You See It

 

Designed for Humans

Good visualizations and good visualization tools are carefully designed to take advantage of human perceptual and cognitive strengths and to augment human abilities that are weak. If the goal is to count the number of circles, this visualization isn’t well designed. It is difficult to remember what you have and have not counted.

Quickly, tell me how many blue circles you see below.

Design for Humans 1

The visualization below, shows the same number of circles, however, is well designed for the counting task. Because the circles are grouped into small sets of five each, it is easy to remember which groups have and have not been counted, easy to quickly count the number of circles in each group, and easy to discover with little effort that each of the five groups contains the same number of circles (i.e., five), resulting in a total count of 25 circles.

Design for Humans 2

The arrangement below is even better yet.

Design for Humans 3

Information visualization makes possible an ideal balance between unconscious perceptual and conscious cognitive processes. With the proper tools, we can shift much of the analytical process from conscious processes in the brain to pre-attentive processes of visual perception, letting our eyes do what they do extremely well.

Stephen Few: Information Dashboard Design

Readers:

Stephen_Few2I am in Portland, Oregon this week attending three data visualization workshops by industry expert, Stephen Few. I am very excited to be sitting at the foot of the master for three days and soak in all of this great dataviz information.

Today, was the second workshop, Information Dashboard Design which is based on Steve’s best-selling book (see photo below).

To not give away too much of what Steve is teaching in the workshops, I have decided to discuss one of the dashboard exercises we did in class. The goal here was to find what we feel is wrong with the dashboard.

I will show you the dashboard first. Then, you can see our critique below.

You can find future workshops by Steve on his website, Perceptual Edge.

Best Regards,

Michael

Information Dashboard Design

 

Dashboard To Critique

CORDA Airlines Dashboard

Critique Key Points

  • Top left chart – Only left hand corner chart has anything to do with flight loading
  • Top left chart – are flight numbers useful?
  • Two Expand/Print buttons – Need more clarity (right-click on chart would be a better choice)
  • Top right chart – Poor use of pie charts – size of pies are telling largest sales channel – use small multiple bar charts, total sales as a fourth bar chart
  • Redundant use of “February” – In the title and in charts
  • Bottom left chart – why does it have a pie chart in it?
  • Bottom right chart  – map may be better as a bar chart (geographical display could be useful if we had more information). Current way bubbles are being expressed is not useful (use % cancellations instead). Symbols may have a different meaning every day
  • Bottom right chart – CORDAir Logo – is this necessary?
  • Location of drop-down. Not clear if it applies to top left chart or all charts
  • Backgrounds – heavy colors, gradients
  • Instructions should be in a separate help document. Only need to learn this once.
  • Top left chart: Faint Image in background. Suppose to look like a flight seating map. Do you really want to see this every day? It is a visual distraction.
  • IMPORTANT: Is there visual context offered with any of the graphs? No. This is critical.

————————————————————————————————-

Dashboard Example Source: Website of Corda Technologies Incorporated, which has since been acquired by Domo.

Stephen Few: Show Me The Numbers

Readers:

Stephen_Few2I am in Portland, Oregon this week attending three data visualization workshops by industry expert, Stephen Few. I am very excited to be sitting at the foot of the master for three days and soak in all of this great dataviz information.

Yesterday, was the first workshop, Show Me the Numbers which is based on Steve’s best-selling book (see photo below).

To not give away too much of what Steve is teaching in the workshops, I have decided for today to show a “before and after” example with Steve’s explanation of why he made the changes he did.

You can find future workshops by Steve on his website, Perceptual Edge.

Best Regards,

Michael

Show Me the Numbers

 

“Before” Example

In the example below, the message contained in the titles is not clearly displayed in the graphs. The message deals with the ratio of indirect to total sales – how it is declining domestically, while holding steady internationally. You’d have to work hard to get this message the display as it is currently designed.

Before - Show Me the Numbers

 

“After” Example

The revised example below, however, is designed very specifically to display the intended message. Because this graph, is skillfully designed to communicate, its message is crystal clear. A key feature that makes this so is the choice of percentage for the quantitative scale, rather than dollars.

After - Show Me the Numbers

Additional Thoughts From Steve

The type of graph that is selected and the way it’s designed also have great impact on the message that is communicated. By simply switching from a line graph to a bar graph, the decrease in job satisfaction among those without college degrees in their later years is no longer as obvious.

More Thoughts - Show Me the Numbers

DataViz Chart: The Buildings of Detroit – Erin Jang

Readers:

Spirit of DetroitAs many of you know, I am a born and raised Detroiter. Despite living in Arizona most of my adult life, I still root for the hometown sports team, seem to be able to find another Detroiter in a crowded room, and long for Sanders Hot Fudge and Lafayette Coney Island hot dogs and hamburgers.

Erin JangI came across this beautiful chart of buildings in Detroit created by Eric Jang on her blog, The Indigo Bunting. Erin Jang is an art director and designer living in New York City. She has worked as a designer/illustrator/art director at several publications including Esquire magazine and was the senior art director at Martha Stewart Living magazine.

She now runs a design studio called The Indigo Bunting (theindigobunting.com) and works on custom freelance design projects and wedding invitations. Her design and illustration work has been recognized by PRINT magazine, Communication Arts, and the Society of Publication Design. She can be contacted at erin [at] theindigobunting [dot] com.

Check out Erin’s other work on her blog. It is truly beautiful.

Best regards,

Michael

Detroit Building Chart

Buildings of Detroit

Illustrations of 16 historical buildings in Detroit

Art Director: Jessica Decker
DBusiness Magazine, March 2013.

Buildings of Detroit Magazine

References:
[1] Erin Jang, NEW WORK: Detroit Building Chart, The Indigo Bunting, 4/2/13, http://theindigobunting.blogspot.com/2013/04/new-work-detroit-building-chart.html.
[2] Bella Figura, Erin Jang Photo and Bio, http://www.bellafigura.com/designers/jang.html.

DataViz: Chart-Topping Songs as Graphs and Diagrams (From FlowingData)

Billboard ranked the top 100 songs since the creation of their Hot 100 list in 1958. The list is based on airplay and sales.

Chart-topping-songs

Small Multiples, Tableau and Ben Jones

Readers:

My BI world is changing a bit as I move more towards using Cognos and Tableau at work. In particular, I have a lot of status reports and dashboards to create for my leadership and I have been doing these mostly in Tableau.

I had a situation recently where I wanted to create a small multiples chart versus using a 3D Bar Chart that already existed. I have created small multiples charts fairly easily in Ben JonesMicroStrategy in my previous work, but have never created one before in Tableau. I reached out to Ben Jones (photo, right) at Tableau. I have been a big fan of Ben’s DataRemixed blog for quite some time and have blogged about Ben many times in the past. Ben was gracious enough to create a simple example small multiples chart for me to use to accomplish what I wanted to visualize. I was really impressed that Ben and Tableau did not put me through any red tape for him to help me. He saw I had a need and he helped me.

Much thanks to Ben for his help and I hope this example is useful to you.

Best Regards,

Michael

Small Multiples

Edward TufteA small multiple (sometimes called trellis chart, lattice chart, grid chart, or panel chart) is a series or grid of small similar graphics or charts, allowing them to be easily compared. The term was popularized by data visualization pioneer, Edward Tufte.

According to Tufte (Envisioning Information, p. 67):

At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question: Compared to what? Small multiple designs, multivariate and data bountiful, answer directly by visually enforcing comparisons of changes, of the differences among objects, of the scope of alternatives. For a wide range of problems in data presentation, small multiples are the best design solution.

A Small Multiples Example by Andrew Gelman

One of the most well-known examples of the use of small multiples is Andrew Gelman’s analysis of public support for vouchers, broken down by religion/ethnicity, income, and state (see image below).

GelmanMr. Gelman is a professor of statistics and political science and director of the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. His books include Bayesian Data Analysis (with John Carlin, Hal Stern, David Dunson, Aki Vehtari, and Don Rubin), Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks (with Deb Nolan), Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchical Models (with Jennifer Hill), Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do (with David Park, Boris Shor, and Jeronimo Cortina), and A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences (co-edited with Jeronimo Cortina).

Andrew has done research on a wide range of topics, including: why it is rational to vote; why campaign polls are so variable when elections are so predictable; why redistricting is good for democracy; reversals of death sentences; police stops in New York City, the statistical challenges of estimating small effects; the probability that your vote will be decisive; seats and votes in Congress; social network structure; arsenic in Bangladesh; radon in your basement; toxicology; medical imaging; and methods in surveys, experimental design, statistical inference, computation, and graphics.

[Click on Image to Enlarge]

Gelman Voucher Map Using Small Multiples

My Small Multiples Chart

Since I cannot show you what I used the small multiples chart for related to my job, I made an illustrative, simple example related to home sales in different regions for the past six months. Below is an example of my chart, which I created using Tableau.

[Click on Image to Enlarge]

Home Sales Small Multiples

Adding Trend Lines

One of the key features I wanted to use in my chart was to be able to show trend lines for each small multiple.

However, when I clicked on Trend Lines -> Show Trend Lines, I kept getting the following error message:

Trend Lines Error Message Panel

Ben pointed out that in my original chart, the Columns shelf, Month needed to be a Continuous data type (green pill) rather than a Discrete data type (blue pill).  If you click in the Month pill, you should be able to select “Change to Continuous” and then you should be able to add a trend line. This occurs because you can only calculate a trend line when two axes are involved. The way I had it set up, the Columns were just different categories or attributes, rather than continuous measures.

I thought this would be a nice tip to pass along.

I hope to be able to share more Tableau tips as I become more proficient with the tool.

DataViz Humor: Eleven Humorous Everyday Life Graphs We Can All Relate To by Wumo

Wumo, formerly Wulffmorgenthaler, is a webcomic and newspaper comic strip created by Danish writer/artist duo Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler. The name of the strip was a portmanteau created from the pair’s surnames. The name was also given to a satirical TV series, broadcast on the Danish channel DR2 in 2005. In June 2012, the strip changed its name to ‘Wumo’.

Wumo debuted in 2001 as a comic strip competition entry named Kalzone, completed a few hours before the entry deadline. Submitted under the pseudonym “Pernille Richter Andersson”, the strip won the competition, and a one month run in the national newspaper Politiken. The strip became a regular feature on DR’s internet culture portal in 2002, and in October 2003 it became a regular daily newspaper strip in Politiken.

As of June 2012, ‘Wumo’ is printed daily in Politiken (Denmark), Aftonbladet (Sweden), Dagbladet (Norway), Die Welt (Germany), Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) and online-only in De Telegraaf (Holland) – and on its own .com website, wumo.com.

Starting in November 2013, Wumo appears in newspapers across the United States, including Washington Post and the New York Daily News, which is replacing the comic strip Get Fuzzy with Wumo.

In March 2014, Wumo replaced the comic strip Doonesbury in The New York Times.

enhanced-1180-1397555059-5 enhanced-4888-1397555057-1 enhanced-5264-1397555060-11 enhanced-5517-1397555056-9 enhanced-6624-1397555055-24 enhanced-6683-1397555055-11 enhanced-7064-1397555059-9 enhanced-7793-1397555055-8 enhanced-7949-1397555404-17 enhanced-17116-1397555058-1 enhanced-31478-1397555058-14

 

————————————————————————

Sources:

[1] Wikipedia.org

[2] Wumo.com

 

 

Disney DataViz: 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar

Readers:

I have decided to create a new data visualization blog post theme specifically for topics related to Disney. This new theme will be called Disney DataViz.

To start off this theme, I could not think of any better chart to present than Dave Shute’s 2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar. Dave’s site is yourfirstvisit.net blog and discusses everything you need to know for your first visit to Walt Disney World.

I encourage you to visit Dave’s site since he is the mastermind behind this wonderful chart.

For now, I am off to Disneyland.

Best regards,

Michael

2015 Crowd Calendar for Walt Disney World

Mr. Shute has provided his projections for Walt Disney World 2015 weekly crowds.

Dave plans on creating at least one revision of it in the summer of 2014, after the full set of 2014-2015 school calendars that he analyzes are out.

Dates in it are the beginning of the week, and the forecast covers the following 9 days.

Crowd levels are ranked by week from 1-11 in the following way:

1: Lowest of the year

2: Lower

3: Low

4: Low-plus

5: Moderate-minus

6: Moderate

7: Moderate-plus

8: High-minus

9: High

10: Higher

11: Highest

How To Interpret The 2015 Disney World Crowd Calendar

Dates are the beginning of the week.

The “low crowd” weeks–those colored green, and rated 1-4–represent the only crowd levels a family visiting for the first time, and unsure if it will ever return, should consider.

However, lower crowds, especially lowest crowds, do not always mean a better week. The lowest weeks are low for a reason–typically because they are in the hurricane or the ride closure seasons.

The “moderate crowd” weeks–those in black and rated 5-7–have crowd levels Mr. Shute would not recommend to first time visitors. However, he would go during such weeks himself with no hesitation, and think these levels are OK for returning visitors who don’t need to see everything and already know how to work Walt Disney World.

The “high crowd” weeks–those in red, rated 8-11–should be avoided by everyone. They aren’t, which is why they are so high.

The Disney World Crowd Calendar Goes Up To “11″

The influence of the Unofficial Guide  and TouringPlans.com has led almost all Disney World crowd calendars to top out at 10.

However, Mr. Shute has always thought that the really nastiest weeks of the year deserved an 11 for emphasis.

So, in homage to Spinal Tap, he has assigned 11 to “highest.”

NOTE: The 2014 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar can be see here.

 

2015 Walt Disney World Crowd Calendar - DRAFT

 

 

Chart: Hey Girl, will you be my Valentine?

Valentine's Day

Source: Colleen Barrett, Valentine’s Day Visualized, Visual.ly, http://blog.visual.ly/valentines-day-visualized.

WSJ DataViz: Hiring Slowdown Blurs Growth View

Dismal Jobs Report Raises Questions Over Economy’s Strength as Year Ended; Bad Weather a Factor?

Source: Brenda Cronin and Jonathan House, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2014.

WSJ - Still A Long Way to Close The Job Gap
The U.S. job gap created during the most recent recession remains, and while payrolls are being added to the economy, they haven’t kept pace with population growth.  
  
American employers added a disappointing 74,000 jobs in December, a tally at odds with recent signs that the economy is gaining traction and moving beyond the supports put in place after the recession.The jobless rate fell to 6.7% from 7% for the month, the Labor Department said, though the decline mostly reflects job seekers giving up their search and leaving the workforce.

A Historical Perspective – U.S. Unemployment Since 1948

WSJ - U.S. Unemployment - A Historical Perspective

WSJ - How 2013 Compares

The downbeat readings were partly attributed to distortions caused by bad weather, and many economists warned that the report may prove to be a fluke. Employers, too, are reporting a mixed take on the economy and their labor needs.

The report is likely to temper the Federal Reserve’s recent optimism about the health of the economy, but economists and analysts say it won’t alter the central bank’s course in reducing its bond-buying program. In December, Fed policy makers decided to cut the bond purchases by $10 billion, to $75 billion, starting this month. Fed officials said they expect to dial back the program steadily in 2014, as long as the economy looks strong enough to advance without such support.

The weak job numbers didn’t appear to faze stock investors but fueled a rally in bonds. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed, dropping 7.71 points, or less than 0.1%, to 16437.05. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, dropped 0.106 percentage point to 2.858%, its steepest daily slide since Sept. 20.

Michael Jones, chief investment officer at RiverFront Investment Group, said $75 billion in bond purchases is still big enough to support the stock market and he expects the Fed to move ahead with another $10 billion cut in its bond-buying program when it meets later this month. “Given that the Fed is still supporting us,” he said, the market shouldn’t take a big hit “despite the conflicting data.”

In recent weeks, a host of favorable economic benchmarks—showing expansion in manufacturing, brisk growth in gross domestic product, and strong exports—fueled expectations that the economy had shifted into a phase of faster growth that would translate into more jobs. Consumer confidence and spending have held up and businesses, with an eye to rising demand, are beginning to invest in new hires and equipment.

At Hayes Cos., a maker of metal parts in Pineville, La., “our biggest obstacle right now is finding skilled labor,” said Chief Executive James Hayes. The energy boom is driving business at the family-owned manufacturer, which makes parts for equipment in the oil and gas industry, as well as for train tank cars and other purposes.

“We need welders, fitters, machinists.…All the things manufacturing companies need, we need it,” Mr. Hayes said. “We have the work, we have no people.” The company aims to add another 75 jobs in the next few years to its current workforce of 140, he said.

The picture in Friday’s job report was far different from what Mr. Hayes painted. Government payrolls declined by 13,000 in December, and health care—usually a steady source of job growth—declined by 1,000. Construction jobs, which are often weather-dependent, declined by 16,000. Manufacturing payrolls expanded just 9,000.

One piece of good news in Friday’s report was a substantially revised increase in November’s tally, to 241,000 new jobs from 203,000. “Typically when you have upward revisions to prior months’ data, that’s an indication that things are getting better,” said Ward McCarthy, chief financial economist at Jefferies LLC. December’s 74,000 tally—the Labor Department’s first estimate—in turn, could be revised in next month’s report.

Friday’s weak jobs number may have been due less to weather than payback for an exceptionally strong reading in November, said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets. It looks as if November’s “241,000 is an outlier just like [December's] 74,000 is an outlier,” Mr. Porcelli said. “The answer is somewhere in the middle.”

WSJ - Monthly Change in Nonfarm PayrollsSome labor-market softness is evident at Complete Advanced Maintenance Co., of Ebensburg, Pa. Camco just let six workers go, said President Warren Myers—marking the firm’s first layoffs in years. Camco, which tests and repairs electrical switching gear for heavy industry, mines and steel mills, has seen demand shrink for work on equipment for coal mines and coal-fired power plants.

The layoffs brought the company’s workforce down to about 45 employees. Mr. Myers said he hopes to call back the laid-off workers, but it is too soon to tell if business will pick up.

December’s jobs report puts a sober capstone on what had otherwise been a promising finish to 2013. The 182,000 average monthly jobs gains in the past year were nearly unchanged from those of 2012. The labor-force participation rate, which measures the share of the population available to work, declined in December from 63% to 62.8%, returning to the 35-year low touched in October. The ranks of those looking for a job for more than a year was 2.6 million in December.

Long-term unemployment, a hallmark of the 4½-year recovery, changed little between November and December. The number of people out of work for 27 weeks or longer held steady at 3.9 million last month, or 37.7% of all unemployed individuals.

WSJ - Where Jobs Were Added

In late December, federal emergency unemployment benefits to 1.3 million long-term unemployed expired. In some states, unemployed individuals could have received benefits for up to 73 weeks before the program expired. Lawmakers in Washington are considering an extension but remain divided about a number of aspects, including how to pay for it.

Meanwhile, last month’s most significant job gains were in sectors that traditionally aren’t high-paying, such as retail, which added 55,000 positions. The temporary-help sector increased by 40,000.

Bracing for breaking into a tough job market, Adam Kleven began looking for work months before his graduation last month from the University of Michigan, where he studied political science and communications.

Mr. Kleven, who is 21 years old, said he applied for more than a dozen jobs before landing his first interview. He ended up with two job offers as a legal assistant and started work this past week with a Northville, Mich., firm.

“I feel lucky,” he said. “I have a lot of friends with business degrees who are still looking for jobs, and I’m a liberal-arts major.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 270 other followers