Tag Archives: pie chart

The last few not quite so live blog posts: Empathy, Digital Context, and Visualization #ISC2015 #MRX

MRALive blogged from the 2015 MRA Insights & Strategies Conference, June 3-5, 2015 in San Diego. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.


The Use (and Misuse) of Empathy in Market Research: Tom Bernthal, Founder and CEO, Kelton Global

  • journalists try to make people comfortable enough to tell their stories
  • insights industry has really involved in the last 12 years to bring in the skills of journalism and story telling
  • stories are more powerful than data
  • smart brands build empathetic bridges between businesses and customers
  • successful companies today don’t just sell a great product, they sell a great experience
  • what your company does doesn’t matter if people never find out about it
  • customers need to crave your product
  • Warby Parker, Tom Shoes, Dollar Shave Club, Travel Hack – all do this well
  • Head is understanding, Heart is feeling and you need to do it with the ears eyes and heart of another
  • Gut is your instinct
  • Mikes Hard Lemonade was build from gut, and the guys name wasn’t Mike, Mike was the most popular man’s name at that time
  • 1 – make room for emotion, provide psychological air, connect people like me, foster conversations that reveal deeper emotions and experiences. community style research helps with this, allows people to talk amongst themselves as they would normally do with their friends. don’t be afraid of silence, when the room goes silent there is pressure to fill that space. often the respondents will dig a bit deeper to give you more if you give them the space
  • 2- dare to be wrong and challenge what you know, empathy has a narrow field of vision. research is to formulate hypotheses. you need to look off center. it’s not as simple as understanding one single person. it’s everybody around that one person.
  • 3 – connect at the scale, explore the ordinary. we borrow from the tragedies of others to make our empty days feel better.
  • 4 – know when to zoom in and zoom out, integrate approaches. empathy doesn’t increase as the size and scope of the problem grows. we have more empathy for a single person than for hundreds. empathy lacks foresight. it latches on today not tomorrow.
  • 5 – don’t let the facts kill the story, let the story carry the facts. the story is a machine for empathy. powerful tool for imagining yourself in other people’s situations.
  • 6 – have a little empathy. tell a story your audience can hear. consider stakeholder mindset when crafting your story. the risks of poor storytelling are high. tune out if too long. dismiss if too broad.


After Omni-Channel: Preparing for Digital Context: Stacey Symonds, Sr. Director, Consumer Insights, Orbitz, Martie Woods, Lead Strategist, Thought Leadership, Stone Mantel

  • consumers are expecting to reduce the gap between thinking and doing – consumers will almost always give up information about their behaviour if they thin the information will reduce steps required and help them accomplish a goal quicker
  • consumers surround themselves first, then make all sorts of micro purchases
  • now, we buy a brand, and then we buy all the accessories that we didn’t realize we needed
  • people create their own organization structures, like how your browser opens to a saved set of tabs and you automatically go to amazon to buy books
  • the home screen of your phone is what you used most often, it’s hard to get on someone’s home screen
  • consumers are seeking to maximize their attention, the more empowered people are to accomplish more in a short time, the more people meander. rarely do they do one thing at a time. so what are people doing while they interact with your brand? it may hinder the activity but consumers don’t mind.
  • while working, 79% of people email, 45% do social media, 46% listen to music, 61% are texting, 36% are banking, 30% shop, 45% are life managing
  • the journey is less about a linear path and more about a constant state of moving
  • digital supports modes – consumers develop patterns for their activities, a general pattern for focusing and getting things done
  • reading mode or working mode or exploring mode or learning mode – you need to know what mode people are in so you interact with them in the right mode
  • when you shop for clothes, you might be in planning mode or sharing mode or speedy mode
  • consumer behaviour demands more than omni offers, thinking on channels must evolve. we need to focus on digital context. its about how mobile media, data, sensors, and location all come together.
  • consumers never use the words omni and channel.
  • pillars of digital context include the environment, tools, and modes


Best Practices for Data Visualization and Presentation Design: Erik Glebinski, Manager, Consumer Insights, Pepsico, Kory Grushka, Partner, Work Design Group

  • [font size on the title slide are GREAT!]
  • [wow. room is completely packed, not a spare seat and the entire back wall is full of standers, and the aisle is full of sitters!]
  • ‘look at how much data i pulled’ – too much data on one slide
  • ‘the novelist’ – people who use a paragraph of text on the page
  • ‘the repeater’ – does the same point on multiple slides in slightly different formats
  • ‘the sleeper’ – people who use the same chart on every single slide
  • ‘the cartoonist’ – uses clipart in anyway everywhere
  • ‘the cliffhanger’ – someone who uses unnecessary chart builds
  • typography, colour, simplicity, cohesion
  • serif or sans serif – serif has the little decorations on the end of the letter, like times new roman, useful for large passages of text, for reports, because those lines create connections between letters
  • sans serif have grown in popularity because internet is short form content which is better suited for focusing on a single word or a few words
  • warm colours stick out more than cool colours, highlight in orange or red
  • be minimalist with colour, use it sparingly, it should be used for a strategic purpose, stick to 2 or 3 colours. lots of colour kills hierarchy and makes it look cluttered. bias to fewer colours.
  • don’t colour every bar in a bar chart differently
  • apple is a case study in flat design
  • less is better – Dieter Rams
  • if you have any bias, move to simple minimalist edited down side
  • keep font, formatting, and colour consistent from slide to slide, use one colour on an entire slide where it makes sense
  • infographics are design heavy and data light, focus on narrative and story
  • data visualizations are data heavy and design light, often done by dumping data into programs that plot, designer makes sure it looks good
  • 3 ways to evaluate – clear, insightful, beautiful – does it make sense given the subject, is it legible, is there a value add or is it just a spreadsheet, does it look sophisticated
  • bar graphs – space between the bar should be half the space of the bar; where category names are really long flip the chart to horizontal so you can read from left to right
  • line charts – the less lines the better, 6 or more lines is cumbersome so split them up into multiple charts; label the lines themselves on the chart
  • pie charts – consider donut chart if you need several pie charts; start your largest slice at 12 o’clock, 6 slices or less is best so aggregate the smallest ones if you can
  • presentation design
  • pure cinema concept of Alfred Hitchcock – push the unique concepts of the film, use storyboarding – do your own storyboarding even if its stick figures and squares and lines that look really stupid
  • use one idea per slide, limit all unnecessary information, you don’t need every datapoint but just the ones that make the point, visually show them less and communicate more
  • use layering – use multiple slides, highlight one point on one slide and a different point on the next slide eg, grey out several lines
  • white space is your friend, eyes are drawn the point that matters
  • slides shouldn’t talk – avoid too much text, 4 or 5 bullets with 4 or 5 lines; don’t use narrative, this isn’t a book, don’t use sentences that required reading


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!

Marshall: Great Deliverables #MRIA

Welcome to the virtual MRIA 2011 annual conference! This post reflects my personal musings and interpretations of this presentation. It was written during the presentation and posted minutes afterward. Any inaccuracies and silliness are my own.

Seeing is Understanding: The Art of Great Deliverables

Alli Marshall, President, Strix Insights

  • Why did we choose this presentation? We have to consider how we say things, not just what we say. We need to see things quickly, we need to get a message across quickly. Need to know how to get people to retain your message. We don’t need a 60 page slide to pass on a message.
  • ‘The art of better decisions’ – Use visual approaches to communicate decision more quickly and efficiently
  • Three rules: 1) adding visualization will make you a superstar 2) less is more 3) grab a marker
  • 41% of a corporate worker’s day is spent managing email
  • 37% of working time is judged to be unproductive
  • 8 minutes – estimated amount of uninterrupted working time (e.g., no one bugging you midstream)
  • 45% of executives are overwhelmed by data and information
  • Visual images are processed 60,000 times faster than text information
  • Pictures are remembered twice as much as text
  • 3% of business communications contain visuals – This does not match up with the previous stats that people need visual information
  • Less is more!
  • Where is the sweet spot of not too few, not too many, just enough visuals?
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Leonardo da Vinci. He drew one single picture to represent all the dimensions of the human body – the Vitruvius man. One picture is worth a thousand words and that is how many words were used to describe all the information in that drawing.
  • “A good sketch is better than a long speech” Napoleon. (Now we see the “greatest infograph ever,” the map of Napoleon’s march.)
  • Balance of function and form.
  • The infamous Afghanistan spaghetti chart – go search for it. It’s…. great. And it was actually used for organization communications.
  • Create visuals that make people say “Now what”
  • it doesn’t matter if you aren’t an artist, if people may laugh at you, if you haven’t got the tools, it you haven’t got the time.
  • If numbers are important, than give people a table. Highlight the two important numbers. Sort by importance of numbers. Use color gradients not rainbows. Reduce the number of scale points. Choose  ONLY the numbers that reflect your major point. (nice transition of horrid complicated to chart to  simple focused chart.) Strip away all the unimportant stuff. Remove the chart jump. Maximize the data  to ink ratio.
  • 3D pie chart was just stabbed in the heart and dragged from a horse through the streets. 🙂
  • Different companies/roles will require the same set of data to be presented in a different way, different focus, different “now what”

Invesco: A Firm That Wants My Business #MRX

This is why 3D charts suck. They might just kill you.

My Attempt to Get More People to LoveStats #MRX

Perhaps I have too much time on my hands, but I remember how difficult statistics can be. They don’t come easy to everyone and a little encouragement can go long way. I occasionally have a peak through twitter to see who is talking about a statistics exam they are about to take, or just passed, and try to give them a little encouragement or congratulations.

Perhaps you could offer a little encouragement too? Help me bring a few folks come over to the dark side. 🙂


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
  • The Statistics of Rice or Stats for Visual People

    Big numbers can be really hard to visualize. What does one in a million look like? How different is it from one in ten million? A table of rows and columns is a nice way to compare numbers, and charts can be really helpful too. But rice…. well, food just makes everything easier and tastier to understand. Enjoy!

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    Pie-Packing by Mario Klingemann: More fascinating pie chart art

    I am definitely not a fan of modern art but for some strange reason, I really appreciate this artwork. These are more stunning examples of pie charts done correctly. If you are this talented, you are welcome to create all the pie charts you want!

    Check out all of Mario’s artwork here.
    Pie Packing Mona Lisa
    The Starry Night Pie Packed
    The Girl with a Pearl Earring Pie Packed
    Now click on this image to see what Mario says about his reason for creating it. “But when I look around what is being done in data visualization today I have the suspicion that in many cases the design is more important than the actual information and that the use of data is more an excuse to justify the use of aesthetics.” Hmmm, seems I’m not alone!
    Dada Visualization I

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    An Acceptable Use of Pie Charts: Van Gogh Color Distributions #MRX

    Wow. I wish I could take credit for the creativity of these pie charts! Arthur Buxton is the creator of this artwork illustrating the percentages of different colors used in Van Gogh paintings. In addition to apple pie, pecan pie, and sweet potato pie, this is another approved use of pie charts.

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