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.

Hubert Lee
The Dashboard Spy

Pie Chart Runs Amok

As business intelligence professionals, we often present our observations and findings in front of an audience. As I rule, I am seldom nervous about the content, but I am often worried about the technology.

How many times have you had technical difficulties in your presentations? But have you ever had it happen in front of a national audience?

Someone brought this video to my attention. It really cracked me up. A real case of distracting graphics. No one is listening to the speaker – everyone’s watching the pie chart fail!

Business Intelligence Dashboards often feature the pie chart because of its ubiquity. On this blog, we’ve often debated the true usefullness of pie charts and looked at these pie chart alternatives.

Hubert Lee
The Dashboard Spy

Tag: Dashboard Pie Chart

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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