Tag Archives: Jeff Shaffer

The Language of Bar Charts

It is always best to avoid rotated text when creating data visualizations, yet this seems to be one of the most common problems I see.  This might be due to the fact that tools like Microsoft Excel rotate axis labels automatically in many situations and people don’t make any adjustments to these defaults.  Even Tableau, which generally has better practices…

Exploring All of Your Options: Data Visualization

Excerpt: It is true about blogs and books suggesting line charts for time series data.  In fact, when teaching data visualization at the University of Cincinnati I always reinforce to my students that time series data is best as a line chart.  This is because we, as readers, typically understand time when plotted on the x-axis and we typically want…

Creating Dual Axis Bullet Graphs with Tableau

One of the great tools for creating reports and dashboards is the bullet graph.  This type of graph was invented by one of the great experts in the data visualization field, Stephen Few.  If you are not familiar with his work then you should check it out at PerceptualEdge.com.  Bullet graphs are great tools for showing lots of information in…

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Creates an Excellent Graph

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has published some really bad graphs and maps over the years.  Below is an example of a map they publish monthly for the “Unemployment rates by state”.  In this map they are attempting to have a sequential color scheme, going from light to dark to represent low to high unemployment rates, but because of…

Make Category Comparisons Much Easier with these Redesigns

The 100% stacked bar chart is a useful chart when compressing lots of data into a small area.  However, it’s really only useful when the whole is more important as a comparison than the parts.  In this case, it is more important to compare the parts to one another and each part to the average, i.e. the “All” category.  There…

Design Issues Distort a Compelling Story for the Hamilton County Auditor

These charts are attempting to tell a compelling story on how the auditor’s office has decreased staff consistently from 1990 through 2011 while Hamilton County increased staff until 2008 before finally cutting staff in 2010 due to budget issues.  However, these charts have some serious design issues that hide the data and do not allow the reader to understand the…

Visualization: Rules for BI

Turn your REALLY BAD charts into great, informative dashboards!