This page from a Tesco report prompts a few things for us to think about in relation to designing such graphics.
First, the use of ‘most’ and ‘least’ comparisons can be very powerful if used properly. A lot of analyses can default to talking about averages. We could imagine this graphic being done with a “typical basket”. But using the extremes of a scale brings out very stark contrasts and helps focus us on the factors that appear to correlate with best and worst. We can then go ahead and satisfy ourselves that the data actually proves that connection.
So, perhaps you could develop such a comparison between your ‘most and least’ things, for example your:
– most and least profitable projects
– most and least recommended products
– most and least failing processes.
The same could also be done for individuals or teams: salesforce, surgeons, researchers, whoever. No doubt you will need to work hard to make sure the data is robust and we’d recommend sharing the information with the aim of helping everyone improve, but it will certainly grab attention and get people talking.
Second, you need to make sure you have the right categories for your analysis. This graphic is designed around the Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) for food nutrition and Government advice on healthy eating and drinking. But can you spot the big item that seems oddly missing? Try looking at the final sentence in the small note at the bottom left of the page. The data is included but maybe it should be split out given its importance to health and well-being?
Finally, if you were asked to redesign this graphic to make it quicker and easier to read and understand, what changes would you make? Have a think before looking below for some suggestions from me.
Some suggested changes:
- Reduce the size of the text “5% most healthy baskets” and “5% least healthy baskets”. These dominate the key visual area of the page relative to the value of the information they convey.
- Move the data columns closer to each other to enable a more distinct side-by-side comparison. Our eyes (physically) and brains (mentally) are being asked to do a lot of work in scanning from left to right across most of the page to see how the proportions vary.
- Simplify the labelling. If you use symbols and still have to spell out the text next them, then the symbols are not working. They are just decoration, and don’t add to the usability of the graphic. Also, if you made suggested change 2), you would only need one set of labels rather two, so making for less visual clutter.
- Increase the visibility of the conclusion text in the red box. It is easy to miss and the dark background and small text make it really hard for some people to read .
- Put a proper sentence strapline at the top or bottom explaining the key message of the page. For example: “The most healthy baskets of shopping are half full of fruit and veg and have hardly any snacks and soft drinks in them”.
I do like a bottle of Crabbie’s ginger beer and a Tunnock’s tea cake though…