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A graph remake

Through Google I found this blog post commending the graphic on the right, originally from hereI don’t know anything about either site except that the first one has the same WordPress theme as I currently have here, and has the bold subtitle “Where the graphics & visualization community goes for news and insight”.

I agree that this graphic is pretty good, in comparison to other infographics.  The left side is nice. The right side is a little cartoonish, or as Tufte might say, chartoonish.  There’s no need to be so emphatic, and there’s no need to give a dummy version of the information. (I know this is the style of many infographics. I disagree with the style.)

Let me see if I can make my point about the right hand side with a side-by-side comparison, below.  My imitation of the original is on the left, and the remade version on the right.  (I’m not sure what numbers are being used in the original graph. Bi-weekly averages? This is another problem.  How can we interpret the graph if we’re not told what the graph contains?)  For convenience, for my graphs I’m using the single-day conversion rates for the 1st and 15th of each month.  I’ll concede that the graph on the left is more eye-catching, but the version on the right, with a scale showing per cent change, provides a lot more information. (Click on image for a larger, clearer version.)

Now the user can see on her own that the change is nearly 7% on May 1st without this single fact being announced across a third of the space.  And if she prefers to know the per cent change at any other time, she can determine that, too.

To make my imitation, I got the data from the source, which, as you can see from the original graph, is Oanda.com.  Oanda provides conversion rates for each day.  Thus, the chart maker chose to give the user less information than was available.  I’m guessing this is because with fewer numbers it is easier to make a simple, toy graph.  Again, it’s chartoonish.

Below is a graph with conversion rate for each day in the same time range as the original.   (Click on any of these to see larger versions.)

Below is the same, through May 21.

And here are my final versions.  I’m not sure which I prefer.  There might be a better way to make the distinctions between months.

Despite my completely remaking the original graph, I still think it is nice compared to what we see in many infographics.  The most important change, in my opinion: tell the viewer what numbers are being shown.

Oof, that was a lot of work.

Categories: Graphics
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  1. May 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm
  2. May 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm

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