Hate the defaults
The inutility of stacking columns

Highlight the right elements of a chart

The big news in the tech world is Steve Ballmer's retirement accouncement. Andrew Sullivan cites this chart by Derek Thompson as a reason for Ballmer's departure: (original article)


 How about this version?



What makes this version better?

  • Having the Microsoft/Wintel area at the bottom means the boundary of the area traces its rise and fall
  • Choosing a heavy color for Microsoft/Wintel draws attention to the main stage
  • Focus numerical labels on the particular items that convey the story, i.e. the numbers highlighted at the top of the original chart in red
  • Subtle and sparse gridlines tied to the key message
  • Tilt labels to fit inside areas
  • Place data labels inside chart next to the highlighted features
  • Draw attention to the boundary of the Microsoft/Wintel area



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Android doesn't even belong on this chart. It's not a Personal Computing Platform. Phones are not PCs.


It certainly looks better the other way up. And I agree on selection of a heavier color for the main point - but don't you think it would be stronger still to just pick a color for Microsoft (say a blue - since that's most strongly associated with the brand)and put all the others in a greyscale set?

Also what's the logic for those dates - do they tie into major wintel releases?


....: I'm guessing Android is there because of tablet computers.

Powerfulpoint: I didn't have a handy tool to switch the other colors but yes, putting all of them in grayscale is better.
I have no idea about 1983 but the 1998-2005 appears to capture the peak of Microsoft's dominance

Jörgen Abrahamsson

The problem is with the stacked area chart. Almost never a good choice. Just a flawed construction. Sometimes with small series a layered approach is possible but more often small multiples will work fine. An example http://synbarligen.typepad.com/synbarligen/2012/02/utryckning.html

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