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