Thursday, November 28, 2019

The bar chart race is the fidget spinner of data visualization

Andy Cotgreave has recorded a video humorously critiquing bar chart races—animated ranked bar graphs,—calling them “the fidget spinner of data visualization.” Are bar chart races good or bad? I guess that, like everything else in visualization, it depends on the purpose you have in mind. Decisions in visualization need to be based on justifiable reasons. If you want to wow viewers and capture attention, then go ahead and try to make one. But if you want them to extract meaning from the data, spot trends or patterns and, as a consequence, learn something interesting or useful, in many cases you might want to choose a different visualization type, such as our old friend the time-series line graph: