Last summer, my husband was traveling for work and I had the house to myself for an entire week. I could’ve binge-watched Sex and the City or eaten crumbly crackers in bed, his one-and-only marriage deal breaker.
Instead, I designed my own chart taxonomy (while binge-watching Sex and the City and eating crumbly crackers, of course).
I sketched all the charts I use on a regular basis on 3.5 x 5 inch index cards:
Then, I sorted and grouped and sorted and grouped the index cards:
A week of sorting and grouping later, I realized my husband was about to return from his business trip. He probably wouldn’t want to come home to a living room covered in charts.
Crap! How was I going to store the schema I’d been thinking about all week?
I tried to squeeze my chart chooser onto a PowerPoint slide.
I tried to squeeze my thought process into mind mapping software.
Nothing worked. I couldn’t bring myself to create something static. I wanted to give you a chance to explore the charts for yourself.
Last fall, the Chart Chooser website was born.
For the past eight months I’d only been sharing my chart chooser with workshop participants. Today I’m opening to site to everyone.
See the filters along the top? You might say, “Hey Ann, just show me the charts that are good for visualizing patterns over time.” You’ll see line charts, slope charts, and a variety of small multiples layouts.
Or, you might say, “Hey Ann, just show me the charts that are good for visualizing a dispersion, spread, or range of data.” You’ll see options like the histogram, population pyramid, or box-and-whisker plot.
Then, you can click on the chart icons that interest you and you’ll be led to a separate page. You’ll see descriptions of that chart type, and in most cases, links to examples and tutorials.
The site’s not finished. It’ll never be finished.
I have no plans to add every single chart type known to mankind. I want to focus attention on the charts that give you the best bang for your buck — the essentials.
But I will continue adding descriptions, examples, and tutorials for the entirety of my career. Enjoy the ride!
How did you know my birthday was coming up?! This is awesome, Ann! Exactly the kind of thing I would do with my free time. Thank you for sharing this!
Happy Birthday Freya! Glad I could provide an early gift.
You are one stellar individual! Thank you so much for being so generous with sharing the product of your hard work with the rest of us!
Great job, Ann! I especially like the filter option.
Thanks Nicole. I used to have a billion more filters (1, 2, or 3+ points in time… 1, 2, or 3+ series of data…. etc.) but I decided to pare it down and keep with something simple. Choosing a chart type certainly involves some science and logic, but there are so many softer critical thinking skills that come into play too. I didn’t want the filters to feel too prescriptive. Glad you like it!
This is such a fantastic resource! Thanks Ann for all the great work you do!
Wonderful! Sharing with colleagues right now.
Nice design Ann, I love that you’ve used only B&W, it’s so clean. I’m wondering why don’t more people use it, any thoughts? I’m passing your heatmaps to the #GIS crowd. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂
Thanks Kuba. The initial version that I built last summer/fall had full colors – lots of blues, reds, and greens. I decided that I wanted people to focus on the general shape or outline of each chart and not be distracted by the color.
Hope your GIS folks find this useful. I teach about 10+ varieties of spatial maps during my workshops but haven’t added those layouts to this site yet. Someday!