Here’s an example of how more isn’t always better. Compare the interactive presentation of retail sales data below to the static version – both from the Wall Street Journal. In my opinion the static version presents the information in a much clearer and usable format. The only thing it’s missing is a chart for “total retail sales”. Regarding the interactive version, I’ve never liked stacked bar charts over time unless they illustrate very clear trends – with this many similar segments I think they are pretty silly (though the ability to drill down does alleviate this a smidgeon).  (related article)

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2 Responses to Retail Sales

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Scott K

January 16th, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Where is the second graphic from?

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Jon Peltier

January 16th, 2012 at 11:59 pm

The problem with interactive charts is that often the designers hide information behind interactive actions, while the same interaction is presented in static charts. For example, instead of seeing multiple series in the chart (multiple lines, or stacked columns, or whatever) you can only see one series at a time, and when you make another appear, the one you were looking at disappears. Now how am I supposed to remember the data that vanished?

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