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October 14, 2011

Global Consumers Go Bubble Popping


Nielsen is at it again.  Just when I thought they were making strides in the right direction, they bring me back to reality.  As with most Nielsen articles, this one is well written with lots of facts that are explained in an easy to understand manner (kudos to them for writing well).  There’s even a nice bar chart that ranks survey responses.  But then, they throw this junk in there:

Is it just me, or is this screaming out for another bar chart?  Maybe they’re afraid they’ll bore their audience with another bar chart, so they throw in an unnecessary ranked bubble chart to gain your attention.  Are they THAT desperate?  Why not represent it like the bar chart below?


Or better yet, show the data itself.  It tells the same story, but only simpler and you don’t have to try to infer any additional meaning from the size of the bubbles.


My faith and resolve are not shaken though.   Eventually they’ll get annoyed by my emails and write me back.


  1. How about a dot plot, like:

  2. Hey Andy,

    I totally agree the bar graph is easier to read. And I suspect you're right - I think publications are worried that bar graphs look dull. I was dismaying recently over a regional newspaper's use of donuts instead of bars.

    Our designer at work keeps telling us that people love circles. Is there an answer that straddles the divide? Can we make bar graphs sexier to satisfy those less concerned with accurate comparisons and more concerned with aesthetics?

  3. That is always the struggle isn't it Mark? The problem is that people are so used to pies and circles that they simply don't know any better.

    It'll be a slow transition to get publications to switch. All we can do is continue to leave comments on their articles.

    Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, they did not post my comment. They never have, but I'll keep writing them.