February 25, 2013
Nielsen Makeover: Global recession sentiment chart alternatives
Nielsen recently published a report on economic recession sentiment, which included this summary chart:
At first glance, you might think “This is simple enough, how could Nielsen screw this one up?” Fortunately for me, they continue to make a mess of even the simplest charts.
This chart makes North America and Europe negative sentiment look so much higher than any other region or the global average. However, that’s only because the scale does not start at zero, nor do they call that fact out. Look at Latin America. Since when is 53% about 1/4 of 75%?
I wanted to see how far off their chart was so I built a simple bar chart in Tableau as a first alternative.
This is a very different perspective. Europe, Middle East/Africa and North America are all pretty close. And the change by quarter does not look nearly as severe.
A simple bar chart is an effective way to present this data, and there are other alternatives that work as well. Let’s consider two slope graphs.
The technique used to build these slope charts is very similar to the one I outlined in my previous blog post. Notice that the lines are colored by whether the sentiment increased (got worse) or decreased (got better). For this coloring, I used a technique recommended by reader Santiago Restrepo in which we calculate the quarterly change as a discrete measure.
First, you need to create a calculated field:
By default, the table calculate is set to compute along the Table (Across). For the slope graphs, we want the calculation to calculate by Quarter. To do so, click on the Default Table Calculation link on the Calculated Field window and choose Quarter.
The first slope graph looks at all Regions together:
The second option splits out each region across the table.
Which of the three options do you prefer? The bar chart or maybe one of the slope graphs?