Common Mistakes In Data Visualization
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Common Mistakes In Data Visualization

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  • Interestingness: relevant, meaningfull, new Function: easiness, usefulness, useability, fit Form: beatty, structure, appearance Integrity: truth, consistency, honesty, accuracy Interesting + function = experiment Function + form = sketch Form + integrity = eye-candy Integrity + interesting = proof of concept Not interesting = boring Not functional = useless No form = ugly No integrity = rubbish

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  • 1. Common mistakes in data visualization Amedee Van Gasse BarCampGhent3 19 December, 2009
  • 2. $ whoami
    • Current day job:
    • 3. MS Office/VBA specialist
    • 4. Desktop & Mail Security (Antivirus, Spam,...)
    • 5. Geek stuff:
    • 6. Ubuntu tweaking
    • 7. Drupal ( http://foutparkeerders.be - with @peterdedecker )
    • 8. Tik vzw ( http://tik.be )
    • 9. [email_address] http://amedee.be http://twitter.com/amedee http://be.linkedin.com/in/amedee http://facebook.com/amedee.vangasse
  • 10. The power of data visualization
    • Chinese proverb: One Picture is Worth Ten Thousand Words
    • 11. The Fast-Food Information Age
    • 12. Pr0n for the stats junk
      • Pointy-Haired Boss
      • 13. Twitter: Infograph of the day ( @bnox )
  • 14. What Makes Good Information Design?
  • 18. With Great Power...
    • ... Comes Great Responsibility
      • Look for the Hidden Agenda
      • 19. Trust No One
      • 20. Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics
  • 21. Let's just face it:
  • 22. Why do we lie?
    • Charts, infographics,... are only a simplified representation of a complex reality
    • 23. Compare with maps: they are also (white) lies
    • 24. Used to convice others
    • 25. Because it looks cool
    • 26. Because we don't know any better
  • 27. The axis are (not) your allies
    • Y axis starts at 500. Why 500?
    • 28. Gradients
    • 29. Grey on grey
    • 30. Original chart has animation...
  • 31. Why?
    • December = 1/5 size of January = CRISIS!!!
    • 32. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt
    • 33. Convince employees of needed budget cuts
    • 34. Or... just blind faith in Excel???
  • 35. What really happened
    • 2008 up to Q3 was an exceptionally good year
    • 36. Yes, there was a crisis, but...
    • 37. We went to 1/2, not to 1/5
    • 38. Excel bug: lowest value on Y-axis is ”magic”...
  • 39. What we saw in the meeting 47.988 47.115 47.385 2008 OB 2009
    • No scale
    • 40. Why start at 40.000? Why not 30.000 or 45.000?
    • 41. 3D adds no value
    versus 2008: - 1,3 % versus OB : + 0,6 %
  • 42. A more accurate version versus 2008: - 1,3 % versus OB : + 0,6 %
  • 45. You need X-Ray Vision for this one
    • Confession: I made this one
    • 46. What if executed > planned? -> invisible!
    • 47. Better chart: bars (executed) + lines (planned)
  • 48. Pie chart hell
    • I made these too!
    • 49. 3D
    • 50. Gradients
    • 51. Could have been combined with previous chart
  • 52. Combining the two previous charts
  • 53. The donut: evil twin of the pie
    • Psychedelic
    • 54. Hard to compare series
  • 55. Can't get enough pie?
    • Only one thing is worse than one pie: two pies
    • 56. Little information
    • 57. You can tell your story with one chart
  • 58. ”Pies are to scale”
    • Pretty colors
    • 59. 3D: same diameter?Perspective?
  • 60. The Mother of all Pie Charts
    • http://www.slideshare.net/netlash/old-media-vs-new-media
    • 61. Sorry, @netlash , but this one really sucks
    • 62. Why are Greece and Germany the same size?
    • 63. Red = good or bad?
    • 64. Lots of comments on InformationIsBeautiful.net
  • 65. The original chart
  • 68. By the way, did I already tell you that I really hate pie charts?
  • 69. The only good pie charts Pac Man Pie: @flexyflow
  • 70. Want to see some more silly charts?
  • 71. Spiderman loves this one!
    • Radar chart
    • 72. Hard to read
    • 73. Needs a lot of tweaking
    • 74. Ugly even with perfect data
  • 75. 3D: Manhattan chart
    • You can always go... downtown ♫
  • 76. 3D: unstacked area chart
    • This one comes with X-Ray glasses
    • 77. Can you see S3 (yellow)?
    • 78. Use a 2D line chart!
  • 79. Some practical tips
    • Colors
    • 80. Axes, legend & title
    • 81. Logarithmic scale
  • 82. Colors
    • No gradients in background
    • 83. Background contrasts with objects
    • 84. Use color only when needed
    • 85. Different color = difference of meaning in data
    • 86. Soft colors + bright/dark for highlights
  • 87. Colors
    • Stick with a single hue
    • 88. Non-data just visible enough
    • 89. Avoid red+green (colorblind)
    • 90. Leave special effects to Hollywood!!!
  • 91. And the Oscar goes to...
  • 92. Axes, legend & title
    • X Axis: Category or Value?
    • 93. Line charts or XY Scatter charts?
    • 94. Zero-based or not?
    • 95. Second Y axis?
    • 96. Good title and axis labels = no legend needed
    • 97. If your chart needs a legend, it is a bad chart
  • 98. Axes gone wrong
    • X axis is time + location
    • 99. X and Y axes ar not linear
    • 100. A (bad) joke from http://graphjam.com
  • 101. Logarithmic scale
    • Nonlinear stimulus-response: 10x pay raise makes you only 2x happier
    • 102. Avoid unless you know what you are doing
    • 103. Can't be used with 0 in data
    • 104. Use a trick: add 0.001
  • 105. General tips
    • What is your message?
    • 106. Who is your audience?
    • 107. Prepare your data
    • 108. Don't have blind faith in your software
  • 109. Links http://peltiertech.com/WordPress/category/chart-busters http://chandoo.org/wp/category/visualization/ http://graphjam.com/ http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/ http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/11/ 25-useful-data-visualization-and-infographics-resources/ http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/08/02/ Data-visualization-modern-approaches/