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February 21, 2016

Makeover Monday: Who are America's Biggest Bandwidth Hogs?


This week’s Makeover Monday was considerably “easier” than last week’s in that the data set was only nine data points and was really just a simple makeover of a bad chart choice. As David Pires noted, it might seem like I pick on Business Insider; I can assure you I’m not doing so intentionally. They simple provide simple example that work well for this project. Their fault, not mine.

In researching this makeover, I ran across this article from Walter Hickey, also of Business Insider, titled “The Worst Chart In The World”. In the article, which I encourage you to read, Walter walks through the pretty typical reasons for why pie charts are bad choices. Much of the same argument can be applied to this week’s donut chart, which is basically a pie chart with a whole in it, making it arguably even worse than a pie chart for comparing parts to a whole.

Given the article Walter wrote, it’s a shame to see his ideas not permeating across Business Insider. Any ideas on how we can help him spread the good word about data visualisation?

This week I wanted to apply the simple step-by-step approach to the makeover that I’ve used in the past. The idea was sparked by this article by Darkhorse Analytics. Emily Kund has also told me in the past that she really likes when I apply this step-by-step method to my makeovers because she thinks it’s a better learning experience. The charts I makeover don’t always fit this recipe, but I’ll do my best to use this approach when possible.
So flip through the story points one at a time and watch the makeover unfold. Enjoy!


  1. Nice one Andy - I like the use of the story to explain the transformation. I did my own pie make-over in my most recent blog as well!

  2. These type of makeovers can almost be summed as "just use a bar chart, FFS" :)

    1. Agreed that this falls into that succinct category of "Just use a bar chart, FFS".

      (Nice summary for that one... I'm gonna have to remember it!)

      It's still useful to re-examine such basics from time to time... keeps the concepts fresh and also demonstrates it well to others who may not yet have gotten the message.

    2. Absolutely - there will always be a need to explain this concept.

  3. You take "just do a bar chart" to a whole new level. I appreciate you sharing your thought process. I learned something from this one, even the "simplest" makeover.

    I'm curious how you got your reference line to not display a tooltip. Mine keeps showing "Average = X%" (screenshot ) when I hover on the reference line for each cell. How did you turn that off?

    1. Thanks Michael! First, I have tooltips turned off on the worksheet. For the reference line, I'm labeling it with the value and left-center aligning it. The tooltip you're seeing looks like it's coming from the bar not the reference line. Download my workbook and you'll see how I built it.

    2. That was the key - turning off tooltips! Thanks Andy