A rule without If-Then

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

6 reasons for vacation. 2 years. 2 parts of Germany. 24 values. Sounds easy. It’s not. A lot to think about in this chart.

Motives for vacation in Germany - Source: Welt am Sonntag (WAMS), No. 43, 200-10-25, p.24
Source: Welt am Sonntag (WAMS), No. 43, 2009–10–25, p.24
Motivations of Germans for vacation, East (”Ost”) vs. West Germany, from top: new impressions, experience, being on travel, to indulge in something, relaxation, reactivation of memories.

Closeness connects: The headline connects with all first bars. It becomes graphical itself. But shouldn’t. It’s for all four bars.

Time is horizontal: We had that before. Here, a decrease is a movement to the left. Hard to understand for the eye.

Man with a hat: Two men stand beside each other. The smaller one wears a hat. How small is that one? Values to the right of the bar: better not this time.

Colours group: In WAMS all values for 1991 and all values for 2008. Might be ok. Not ideal here.

Checkered is out: Stripes in the background are funny. And decrease readability.

Most important: reason, years, change between years, part of Germany and variance between East and West – all packed into the vertical. Too much.

Urlaubsmotive der Deutschen - Redesign als Grafische Tabelle
Source: DeltaMaster

My rule: Use two visual axes: vertical and horizontal, if it helps. Doesn’t always work. Here it’s ok.

Rich tables for high resolution reporting

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

What is better: tables or charts? That was discussed in the past. Some said a chart is worth a thousand words. I think a picture is worth a thousand words. And most charts need a thousand words to be explained. They are so awful, mostly. Because it is so hard to standardize a chart and there are lots of things that can go wrong. Bissantz loves graphic tables. Me too. Charts are tightly integrated into tables. You have the best of both worlds in one concept. Graphic tables are easy to standardize and you can integrate almost every chart type in a table. Sparklines provide time-series. Horizontal bars are good for almost all types of comparisons. Graphic tables maximize data-to-ink ratio. They are fine grained and with high resolution. The graphical elements provide easy orientation for your eyes. The numbers provide all the details. Typical problems of legends and labeling never arise. I provided some examples in the “Radar chart trap” and in “Small things that make a big difference”. Today, I explain how to create waterfall charts in tables.

A waterfall chart is a variant of a bar chart. It shows how an initial value is changed through other values which lead to a final value. In Excel, you can use invisible columns but this is tricky. Rolf has a nice Excel template for free. Data entry is not so easy. Formatting is very nice.

GM scheme Hichert

Jon has programmed an Excel add-in. Formatting is not so easy. Data entry is very nice.

GM scheme Peltier

In both cases a chart is the result. If you turn it around it is still readable, perhaps even better.

GM scheme turned

Turned around it fits perfectly into a graphic table. Subtotals are also easy. This is how Bissantz has done it in DeltaMaster.

GM scheme in Pivot

It is possible in Excel, too. Just use the REPT function and a few tricks. I show you how in an example Excel sheet.

DB-Scheme inExcel