Are Best Practices always best?
I recently published a viz in which I looked at some characteristics of world leaders in the last 70 years. I looked at four categories that each had two groups – Gender (Male/Female), Age Group (above/below 60), whether the leader was elected or not, and whether the country was a democracy or not. Here’s the viz I created:
Here’s a question I feel is worth discussing:
Should I have followed best practices for this viz?
Let’s start by looking at some of the things I like about the viz as it is:
- It piques my interest because it’s a little bit different than most vizzes I see.
- I personally find it visually pleasing. I think it’s because I like the symmetry of the squares.
- I think it manages to drive the basic message: I can tell how the ratios have changed over time.
But what are some of the draw-backs I can identify?
- We as humans are super bad at estimating areas. It’s the same problem I mentioned for my Child Marriage MakeoverMonday.
- The numbers for each pair of squares always add up to 100%. That fact, however, is not obvious at first glance in this viz.
- A simpler way to represent this data – and the one I would consider the best practice approach – would have been with a stacked bar chart. This would also make it easier to quickly see the change over time.
So… taking the more experimental road with the dual squares or sticking to best practice and using a stacked bar chart? What’s the better approach in this case? I’m happy with the dual square chart in this context but in a business context, I would probably stick to the stacked bars. But I created a comparison below and you can judge for yourself which one you like better…