The little of visualization design: grouping with colour

[I’m shamelessly stealing the idea for “the little of” from Andy Kirk. His series has been amazing]

Yesterday in MakeoverMonday we tackled the worldwide shipping industry. Today the Economist shared a chart about the same topic (above). I highly recommend you also read the full article as it’s about an industry trying to save itself through the use of better data.

What’s I like in this chart is the “Proposed alliances” blocks next to the company names. The primary question in the story is the size of the shipping companies. The secondary question, dealt with in the second half of the article, covers alliances. They designed the chart so you can get on with answering the primary question without the initial distraction of the alliance information.

If I’d designed this chart, I’d have probably coloured the whole bar according to the proposed alliance. I’ve mocked that up below.

coloured-bars

What’s the problem? You can’t escape the colours. You see the colours before you answer the primary question. What the Economist did was keep simple bars that allow the primary question to be answered first. Once that’s dealt with, you can examine the alliance colours and focus on the secondary question.

The 5 most influential vizzes of all time

I was delighted to have another chance to deliver my 5 influential vizzes talk at Tableau’s European Customer Conference today. For those of you who couldn’t make it, or want to watch it again, here is a recording of the session I did for Data Science Central:
[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/62299097″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″ webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen][/iframe]

The 5 Most Influential Visualizations of All Time from Tim Matteson on Vimeo.

And the slides:

The 5 Most Influential Vizzes of All Time

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JISC: how an offensive tweet helped the data viz revolution

Back in November, JISC InfoNet published the results of its survey of BI solutions in Higher- and Further- education. A snaphot is below.

Being someone who is passionate about good quality visualisations, I rattled off a couple of less than complimentary tweets about this. Here’s one:

JISC got in touch with me privately and they were rather upset at my offensive comments. I apologised on twitter the following day, but behind the scenes, we explained why 3-D exploded pies are not a good idea, pointed them to some books (Stephen Few, Tufte, etc) and suggested that Tableau could achieve better, cleaner results. That cleared the air, and was the last I heard about it.

Until a couple of days ago.

JISC got back in touch to say they are now using Tableau for their visualisations (click here to see their first workbooks) I am absolutely delighted about this result. They have come up with some great visualisations, and have even blogged about the experience here. I feel totally relieved, too, that what started with a dodgy tweet has ended up with more converts to the ways of better data visualisation!