Jorge Camoes (photo, right) of excelcharts.com, posted an interesting blog the other day about chart classification. A few weeks ago, Jorge needed a classification of chart types for his upcoming book, and reinventing the wheel was the last thing he wanted to do. He started with Andrew Abela’s well-known classification and the Juice Analytics version. It was a good starting point for him, but it did not fit into his work, so Jorge decided to design his own classification (it’s always nice to have new standards), inspired by this one but also by others, like Stephen Few’s Chart Tamer.
Here is Jorge’s idea: a chart can:
(a) help you compare data points faster but keeps each data point as the basic information unit
(b) help you generalize the data and find patterns, making the data points less relevant. These roles should be as mutually exclusive as possible (but in real world that’s harder than expected).
There are six types of questions, three of them involving data comparison and the other three data reduction. The questions are:
- Comparison: comparing and sorting data points;
- Composition: part-to-whole comparisons;
- Distribution: comparison of data points along an axis;
- Relationship: relationship patterns between two or more variables;
- Evolution: time patterns;
- Profiling: pattern comparison.
- The first row lists the most commonly used chart in the category (it’s a fact, not something he agrees with);
- Only charts that can be made in Excel are included;
- Depending on the question and the task, a chart type can be found in more than one category;
- You may find it bizarre to list a dot as a chart type, but one/off dots are critical in some tasks (monitoring) so I though they deserved to be included;
- There are no neutral and objective taxonomies.
I found this to be a useful new classification chart to add to my bag of tricks. It is motivating me to make one that is MicroStrategy-specific. Let me tinker a bit and see what I come up with. In the interim, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments.