Tough love for chart infidelity
The return on effort in data graphics

A restaurant gem

Felix Salmon spoke highly of this Wall Street Journal chart, and I agree.

Wsj_restaurantrating

Why do I like this? Although it's a basic chart, they did many little things well.

  • They are brave enough to not print any of the actual data on the chart. In other words, no loss aversion.
  • The legend is integrated onto the chart, not banished to some corner or border, requiring readers to stray from the graph. For added effect, the A, B, C labels imitate the actual signs posted outside the restaurants.
  • Simple and effective use of colors
  • Sensible scales. It's even better if they would thin out the horizontal scale for the C rating, say make it 10-point intervals instead of 5-point intervals. Although this is hard to accomplish using conventional software, an axis with different intervals in different regions is surprisingly effective.
  • Using pencil-thin columns. The same chart with thicker columns would be both uglier and less effective.

(I'm not sure I like the up and right arrows on the axis titles. Is it better to remove the arrows and center the text?)

 

Comments

derek

I love that the data are showing something as well, that restaurants may not care how many violations they pick up inside the grades, but they try really hard not to pick up the violation that would take them over the line from one grade to the next one.

Matt Warren

I agree with the arrow observation. Centering the axis-text is enough to communicate the intent.

Jon

Like Derek, I think it's interesting that there's such a sharp drop-off between low-scoring As and high-scoring Bs -- very suspicious. I don't know anything about how these gradings are done, but I would guess that the inspectors have more control over the exact number of violation points than the restaurants do. That makes we wonder why inspectors appear to tip the scales to keep restaurants one or two points short of a downgrade from A to B. Seems akin to grade inflation.

Tom Aker

I have found the information in your blog post to be very useful and hope more are on the way. It's definitely one of the more easy to read ones that I've came across.

Kuldip K.

Very useful information to analyze a bar graph. I printed it to show it to my students. I stumbled on this nice post while searching for bar graph explanation for my students. It's really an awesome piece of info for grade eight statistics students to know all about a bar graph.

In case to axis titles, I think if they were centered without arrows,were better.

Any how, great post and keep it up.

Mark Henry

I don't know anything about how these gradings are done, but I would guess that the inspectors have more control over the exact number of violation points than the restaurants do.

The comments to this entry are closed.