Africa Reporting Standards

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I visited my friend Namib. He lives at the Epupa Falls. They are in the North of Namibia, on the border to Angola. By day he tends goats. In the evenings he thinks about visualization.

Namib at work The village's soccer stadium Frankfurt, Germany, straight on for 8951 km

Bella, symbols are for worse, you say. That is why we create them as analog as possible. You cannot misinterpret:

Elephants might cross anytime Warthogs might cross anytime Springboks might fly over anytime

Our design is simple, organic and as close to the object as possible. Left: markings for road workers. Middle: a signal that this Himba village does not welcome visitors. Right: sign for a tire repair station.

Not larger than this Leave us alone Tire repair shop in Puros

We adhere to your Bella Reporting Standards and label directly, without decoration:

Find the cash box below the arrow Barber's shop in Opuwo The bigger of two shops in Palmwag

Understanding outplays beauty:

Still 36 km of gravel to go Sesfontein gas station

Sincerely yours, Namib

Stacked columns – why stacked?

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Visualization often focuses on changes in shares which are compared to a total. Stacked column graphs which add up to 100 % are a common chart type. But not for more than three shares at once. Readability is becoming too bad. Even three cause problems.

Stacked columns - three shares at once
Shares of channels for selling used cars: used car dealers, new car dealers and private

My eye has to grasp the height of the top-most columns from the top down. The columns in the middle are even worse. My eye keeps jumping up and down to grasp their height. The source of the problem: the top line symbolizes 100 %. This is also plain to any reader, if I tell him beforehand that everything adds up to 100 %. Thus, no need to focus the design of the graph on this convention.

Option 1: Columns in a Graphic Table

Columns in a Graphic Table instead of stacked columns

Option 2: Sparklines in a Graphic Table

Sparklines in a Graphic Table instead of stacked columns