What Makes a Pie Chart Compelling?

No, this is not another post about which chart or graph is best for data visualization. For that discussion, we have posts like this one: Why line charts are better than pie charts.

And nor is this about the history of the pie chart. See The First Pie Chart (yes, you can see the very first pie chart!).

What I’m aiming at in this particular post is that what makes a pie chart compelling is simply the data itself. Data visualization is about telling a story. Yes, it’s got to be dramatic, compelling, obvious, and, of course, truthful.

I’m saying this because I came across a pie chart diagram in my email. It was from September 21, 2010 when the firm Canaccord first released a “buy” recommendation on Apple stock (then trading at $356 a share – now at $629, nearly a doubling of the price in less than 2 years). Here it is:

Wow – is that data compelling or what? Look at the incredible profitability relative to the market share.

Yes, that’s a powerful pie chart.

And it’s because of the data.

Warmly
Hubert Lee
The Dashboard Spy

Carbon Footprint Dashboard

When Dashboard Spy reader Jonathan Nell said that the dashboard screenshot he just sent over was really “cool”, I didn’t think he meant it literally. Well, he did. The Carbon Footprint Calculator is a data visualization example featured at CoolCalifornia.org, the portal for a consortium of California agencies and organizations.

The California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, Next 10, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Berkeley Institute of the Environment, and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab have partnered to provide the technology to enable Californian individuals and businesses the ability to evaluate their carbon footprint. The carbon calculator provides emission estimates for personal transportation, housing, food, goods and services.

Users navigate through a series of tabs and ultimately wind up at a summary dashboard. Let’s take a look at the six tabs of the carbon calculator. Click on the images to enlarge them.

CoolCalifornia.org Carbon Footprint Calculator - Tab 1 - Home Economic Information

CoolCalifornia.org Carbon Footprint Calculator - Tab 1 - Home Economic Information

Carbon Calculator - Tab 2 - Transportation Data

Carbon Calculator - Tab 2 - Transportation Data

Carbon Calculator - Tab 3 - Cost of Housing and Utilities

Carbon Calculator - Tab 3 - Cost of Housing and Utilities

Carbon Calculator - Tab 4 - Food Expenditures

Carbon Calculator - Tab 4 - Food Expenditures

Carbon Calculations - Tab 5 - Cost of Goods and Services

Carbon Calculations - Tab 5 - Cost of Goods and Services

Carbon Footprint Calculation - Tab 6 - Summary Dashboard

Carbon Footprint Calculation - Tab 6 - Summary Dashboard

The CoolCalifornia.org carbon calculator was created with Crystal Xcelsius.

Tags: Green dashboard, building dashboards, energy dashboards, carbon calculations.

More on the Pie Chart

The question of whether pie charts are as good as they would appear to be (judging by their popularity with business users), continues to be examined. The excellent statistical visualization / infographics blog, flowingdata.com, recently discussed alternatives to the pie chart when reviewing the results of a reader survey. Here is a brief screengrab from their post:

Alternatives to the Pie Chart

Continue with this post for more by clicking on the “read more” link:
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