Tag Archives: 3D

5 ways to sexy up a chart without using the 3D function #MRX

I know. It’s tempting. You want to make a splash. You want to liven up the page. And you need to do it fast. But what are you supposed to do knowing that the 3D function misrepresents data and makes you look unprofessional as a data visualizer? How can you make your chart really cool and sexy?

Have no fear, my tips are here!

1) choose a really sexy chart that best reflects the data. Line charts for changes over time, bar charts for comparisons of categories, pie charts for percentages that add to 100.
2) choose sexy colours from the primary and secondary colour wheel. Avoid fluorescent colours. Avoid using yellow on white. And keep in mind that 8% of guys are colour blind so consider a restrained use of dotted or dashed lines.
3) choose really sexy labels and titles that clearly describe and explain the contents of the chart.
4) choose sexy scales that start at zero, end just above the largest number, end have 3 or 4 cut points in between.
5) as a last resort, if you think a chart can only be sexy if it has unnecessary and extraneous components, insert several sparkly blinky unicorns and switch careers


How to Get Out of the Question/Answer Rut by Susan Fader, Fader & Associates #CRC2014 #MRX

tCRC_brochure2013Live blogging from the Corporate Researchers Conference in Chicago. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

How to Get Out of the Question/Answer Rut by Susan Fader, Fader & Associates

  • use story telling, use all five senses, use 3D
  • if your culture focuses on memorization, creativity is lower
  • everyone has a laundry list of question, take it so you know what people are thinking – who, what, where, when, why, how; questions they think will give them the answers they want
  • when you ask a direct question you don’t necessarily get answers – people feel defense, interrogated, preconceived notions
  • think of a controlled conversation vs free choice
  • do you always talk to heavy users? but even these people aren’t all the same. their behaviour is automatic. they aren’t thinking. it’s all subconscious. they can’t articulate because it’s submerged. must bring the subconscious to conscious.
  • try self-ethnography – have them observe themselves
  • if you have 5 kids, do you THINK about how and why you’re doing laundry? no, it’s automatic
  • need to prime the conversation – get them in the right mindset – use storytelling to do this
  • 80% of the laundry list of questions can be answered by telling a story
  • don’t say “tell me a story about potato chips” say “tell me a story about the world of snack foods” [do NOT get me started!]
  • frame the conversation broadly
  • Financial example – wanted to talk to people who spent at least $2000 in the store, used a group session to talk about loyalty rewards of the program, need to get people in the frame of mind of shopping in the store
    • think about shopping, some of you love shopping, some of you would rather get root canals
    • imagine you have to go to a store and find an outfit, what are you feeling and thinking about that situation – some people are energized, others are sweating
    • they don’t need to read what they wrote, but just tell a story about it
    • takes only ten minutes
  • pharmaceuticals – Hernia surgery
    • general surgeons do 5 to 10 surgeries on a regular basis [did not know that!]
    • they wanted to speak to hernia specialists – 8 to 10 per month – didn’t like that criteria
    • ask them which surgeries they like and dislike, where did hernia surgery fall – they didn’t like it
    • why do you like and dislike these, using a story, people didn’t realize why they gravitated to certain surgeries until they told the stories
    • took ten minutes
    • hernia surgery is non-creative, rote, just about the engineering, doesn’t speak to the creative mind, but when you demonstrate how the tools let you be creative, then surgeons liked it more
  • Orange juice
    • Bring three items from home to help you tell a story, people all brought in the same things – sports
    • but when asked to tell a story they moved from a baseball glove to “i like playing the sport” while the other brand was “i like the team playing”
  • 3D collaging and photo cards – collages are generally automatic pilot, people do what they’re expected to do
    • people didn’t think about getting a flu shot at a pharmacy instead of a doctor
    • why did people who really like diet pop drink a certain brand in full calorie version
    • HIV test – millennials had to have 5 partners over a year – “please tell us a story”  🙂
    •  3D collage of things in your home – “Why would you get a flu vaccine at a pharmacy” – dollar bills, chip bags, cough drops, soap
    • diet vs nondiet – mom created a monopoly game and told her story by playing the game – she put kids fighting on the board, chips on the board
    • someone else used toast, cards
    • in financial services, people include condoms, cars
    • put all the 3D collages on the wall for the story telling
    • people start referring to each other’s collages
    • they work as lie detectors, sometimes they gravitate towards something that wasn’t on their collage, sometimes they can articulate their reasoning
  • Photo cards – there are no people in these cards except for a baby and a witch; they include a range of scenes
    • a group of fish is school time
    • a christmas tree could be surpise of the gifts, sharp needles on the tree, disappointment at getting something you don’t want
    • use about 40 cards – can have story on the wall in 5 to 8 minutes
    • sometimes pair people together for similarities or differences
  • Use game pieces – give people lego, tell them colours mean something, they can communicate taste and smell visually
  • use touch as the springboard – use disruptors, make people come at a discovery in a different way – pick something in a black back and describe it with adjectives. now the assignment is to think of a ~new iphone accessory~ using those adjectives. forces people out of their preconceived notions

Bad 3D Pie Chart Alert! By Scientific American no less!

Well, this is a stunning piece of poor quality work by a respected magazine! I’m not sure if I can even list all of the ways in which it skews and misrepresents the data.

Let’s start with the plain fact that it’s in 3D which means the slices of the pie bear no relation to the numbers they are intended to represent. Add to that, the depth dimension (the red/brown section) which isn’t noticeable until you read the legend and by some strange chance see the extra label. Then, we’ve got pies arrows pointing in all different directions so the location of each pie actually has little relation to where they are placed on the map. Top things off with some horrible colour choices which follow no traditional conventions other than being the author’s favourite colours or matching the theme of the issue that month. Sure, I like pink, but really?

Chart at your own risk, but watch out for the pie chart nazis. Bad charts WILL be caught!

A 3D Bar Chart to Use Without Shame

Yes, I’m a firm critic of 3D charts. They skew perceptions and make it difficult to understand data properly. But this bar chart, showing the frequency of letter use is one 3D bar chart I’ll permit.

Pick One: Pretty or Pretty Misleading #MRX

Look how cool this chart is! The blue, red, and green are neutral and non-offensive. There is no blinding florescence nor strange strobing visual effects. Colours aside, without the scale, obviously a chart no-no, you’re left to your own to determine the size of each slice. Take a minute and decide on the values of the slices yourself. You will probably conclude that the green slice is the smallest, followed by the blue slice, and the red slice is the largest. Want to bet on it?

Here is the exact same pie chart only it’s designed as a 2D chart rather than a 3D chart. Care to change your answer? The green slice, of course, is still the smallest slice. But now, we can see that the red slice and the blue slice are actually identical. Check the 3D pie chart again – you could convince yourself that the red and blue slices are the same but you’re just fooling yourself. If you had used that 3D chart, you would have succeeded in misleading your audience.

Care for another example? Here’s a 3D bar chart that is far less likely to cause confusion. Simply draw a line across the top of the bar to determine the value of each bar. There are even some helpful guidelines to make our work easier for us. The first bar represents 1.7, the second bar represents 3.7, and the third bar represents 5.7. Or does it…?

Again, here is the exact same chart, but drawn as a 2D chart instead as a 3D chart. I swear to you it is the exact same data. But now it appears as though the bars reflect the values 2, 4, and 6. Honest and truly. This is the same data. You’ll just have to try it for yourself to believe it.

3D charts are pretty. They are decorations for boring powerpoint slides or flashy marketing materials. They are not scientific illustrations nor information sharing tools. If you seek to share factual information, stick with 2D. It’s the only option.

cohdra from morguefile

Read these too

  • In Honor of Infographics. #MRX
  • Did Florence Nightingale invent the pie chart?
  • Only crazy people are on twitter
  • Mugging, Sugging and now Rugging: I take a hard stance on privacy
  • I’m sorry but representative samples are 100% unattainable
  • Dear @BernieMalinoff, your wish is my command

    [tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]Bernie tweets:
    2.5 days of travel/meetings – need to fit 5 days into what’s left. Maybe @LoveStats can suggest a pie chart for this dilemma.


    Annie responds:
    I have analyzed the technical requirements of Bernie’s request and have implemented various techniques to ensure maximum clarity. I have also selected the appropriate graphical representation and applied classic infographic standards for readability and efficiency. Please leave your comments of amazement and wonderment below. Autographs to follow for those deemed important enough.

    Read these too

  • So you think you have a probability sample
  • Cronbach’s Alpha, My Favourite Statistic
  • Permissible pie charts and 1 bar chart
  • Esomar Chicago: Day 1
  • Tagxedo for colorful shapeable saveable word clouds
  • 5.367 tips for presenting charts people will like

    Jordens inre

    Image via Wikipedia

    Having just attended and presented at several conferences, and with one more on the list, I’ve seen more than my fair share of powerpoint presentations in the last few weeks. Some had some great slides, and, well, others I can’t say anything about because I couldn’t read them.

    As a presenter, I know you have a ton of things to worry about. Is your topic interesting? Are YOU interesting? Can you fill up so much time and not flub it all up? It seems we leave building a readable presentation to the end of the list and then we never actually finish the list.

    With that in mind, here are just a few tips that will result in your audience being more appreciative of your presentation. And they’re quick so try them out!

    1. If one line or bar represents the “right” number, colour it green. And vice versa, if one line or bar represents the “wrong” number, colour it red. People are primed to interpret green as go and red as stop so help them understand your data more easily.
    2. If you’re using a line chart, make the lines really thick, thick as in 5 to 10 points. There will be people at the back of the room because there are no seats at the front (yay!). Help them like your presentation by allowing them to see the data too.
    3. Increase the font sizes to crazy big numbers everywhere. Do you need a vertical scale? Increase that font! Need a horizontal scale? Increase that font! Make it so big and fat that it looks wrong – because it will look right from the back of the room. Font sizes should be at least 20 points but go with 30 or more if you can make it work.
    4. Make the chart as big as you possibly can. Take extraneous words off the page to give more room to the chart. If the words aren’t on the page, it will give you something to say instead of read. And people will be grateful for it.
    5. For the love of God, don’t make your chart 3D! Sure, it may be pretty but 3D in presentation style is ten times worse than 3D in paper style. There’s no way your audience can pull your slide close to their face to more accurately interpret all the extra chart junk that 3D creates. Simple is good. Simple is readable.

    5.367. Do not default to the default chart. Default charts are there for people who shouldn’t be using charts in the first place. You are smarter than your software so think about your audience, your purpose, the room where you’ll be presenting and create a custom chart that will work for that specific situation.

    Why 5.367? Because people are more likely to believe numbers that use decimal places. Do you believe that?

    Read these too

    Permissible pie charts and 1 bar chart

    [tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]Why oh why do I give pie charts such a bad rap? Because people find them so easy to make that they use them for all the wrong reasons. Here are three simple rules for making a pie chart.

    • Slices must represent percentages not counts or dates or timelines or averages.
    • Slices must always add up to 100%. Not 412. Not 73. Not 0.037. Only 100%
    • Slices representing the same number must always appear to be the same size. 3D pie charts do NOT do this.

    Below are permissible forms of pie charts as well as one bar chart. Even better, these are permissible forms of 3D pie charts. If you’re unsure about whether your pie chart is failing one of the above requirements and it doesn’t fit in one of the below options, do not make a pie chart.

    Read these too

  • Huh? I never pay attention to you anyways. #MRX
  • 5.367 tips for presenting charts people will like
  • Are Professional Responders the Real Enemy?
  • Why Do I Always Screen Out of Surveys
  • Thoughts and Opinions of the MR Industry – The Researcher’s Perspective
  • If you DARE – the chart test of death

    Former logo of American Idol from 2002 to 2008.

    Image via Wikipedia

    After asking someone what a t-test is and whether they watch American Idol, I have another question I like to ask interviewees to see if they know their stuff. I ask them to create a chart that they would present to a client. Ahhh, the variety of answers this reveals.

    1) Some folks tell me that this version of Excel doesn’t do charts but they can do it on their version. (Honestly. This one astounds me.)
    2) Others create a chart. That’s it. Nothing else. When I re-prompt that it’s to give to a client, I still get a default chart in default colors with a default no title and default lack of zero on the axis.
    3) A few create a chart and try to pick the right chart, try to put a title, and try to fix the axis.

    Right away, I can see that Person #1 has weak problem solving skills and great excuse skills. There are multiple ways to chart in excel and if you can’t get one of them to work, I can’t help you. Thanks for coming out.

    Person #2 pays no attention to detail and barely wants to get the job done. Thanks for coming out.

    Person #3 is my person. Whether they choose the right options, I know they are curious and want to do the right thing. If they don’t know what the right thing is, I can teach them and they can learn.

    If I ever get to ask you this question, please make sure your chart has a non-misleading scale, a good title, non-florescent colours, and isn’t 3D. My sincere thanks.

    Read these too

  • Art, History, and Culture in Chicago Two Balloons and a Great Song
  • Survey Panel Questions – Enough Already! Word Cloud of my Resume – Wicked Cool!
  • Survey Design Tip #4: Brands are people too
  • Oh oh, I Have Another Favourite Statistic!
  • TV Shows From When I Was Short
  • %d bloggers like this: