Why Most People’s Charts & Graphs Look Like Crap

… if data isn’t properly visualized, it can do more damage than good. The wrong presentation can diminish the data’s message or, worse, misrepresent it entirely.

… It’s about presenting information in a way that is easy to understand and intuitive to navigate, making the viewer do as little legwork as possible. Of course, not all designers are data visualization experts, which is why much of the visual content we see is, well, less than stellar. Here are 10 data visualization mistakes you’re probably making and the quick fixes to remedy them.

  • Misordering Pie Segments … Segments should be ordered intuitively (and they shouldn’t include more than five segments).
  • Using Non-Solid Lines in a Line Chart
  • Arranging Data Non-Intuitively
  • Obscuring Your Data
  • Making the Reader Do More Work
  • Misrepresenting Data
  • Using Different Colors on a Heat Map … use a single color with varying shades or a spectrum between two analogous colors to show intensity.
  • Making Bars Too Wide or Too Thin … The space between bars in a bar chart should be ½ bar width.
  • Making it Hard to Compare Data
  • Using 3D Charts … 3D shapes can distort perception and therefore skew data. Stick with 2D shapes to ensure data is presented accurately.

Reference: Why Most People’s Charts & Graphs Look Like Crap


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