October 21, 2016
Fix It Friday: Ten Alternatives Methods for Presenting Alcohol Consumption in OECD Countries
alcohol consumption , arrows , bar chart , barbell chart , chart junk , Fix it Friday , gantt , makeover , map , OECD , Paul Kirby , trellis chart
Interesting @OECD chart on alcohol consumption. By country & trend. E.g Austrians drink twice as much as Italians pic.twitter.com/OOGYJ3BpAq— Paul Kirby (@paul1kirby) October 19, 2016
You might think "It's just a chart Andy, relax!" True. It's a chart. It's not changing the world or anything. There are several things that have me a bit upset:
- Paul Kirby calls the chart "interesting" and maybe the CONTENT is interesting, but the chart is terrible.
- He says "Austrians drink twice as much as Italians", a fact that is simply not true. They drink 61% more than Italians. You can't just spout facts like that.
- Paul is visiting professor at the London School of Economics. I can only assume that his students follow him on Twitter. When he tweets things like this, his student will assume that this is how charts should be made, which only proliferates the number of poor charts we'll continue to see.
The chart itself has its own set of problems:
- It's too dark overall. The dark red bars and dark bottles are hard to see against the blue background.
- The flags are unnecessary. What value do they add?
- The bottles are cute, but unnecessary decoration.
- The legend is in reverse order.
- Do the bottle extend beyond the bars or do they start from the same baseline?
- It has a weak title. What's the story?
This is chart junk at its best. Don't create charts like this. I went to the OECD website and downloaded the data. Below I present ten alternative charts that all work better than the original. You can download the Tableau workbook with all of these charts here.