Storytelling with a Stacked Bar Chart

The folks over at Storytelling with Data recently asked about stacked bar charts and they did a graph makeover. I’d like to tackle that same graph from the perspective of storytelling with graphs.

Now there’s a difference between data visualization and storytelling with graphs. Data visualization basically converts your data into a visual. Storytelling with graphs takes it a step further and draws some conclusion from the data, chooses the right graph to make that story clear and uses design principles to bring attention to that story.

Here’s the original hand-drawn data, and my best estimate to replicate it in Excel.

// Common Baseline
The secret to presenting data on stacked bar charts is to arrange the bars correctly, so you are comparing data along a common baseline. That typically means moving the most important data to the bottom of the stack, so you can accurately see small differences in the height.

For example, in this graph, you can see that “E” is increasing but has leveled off in t5-t6. You can especially see there has been a very slight increase in t6. You can also see that “D” has been declining. But the differences are less obvious because there is no common baseline. In t6, for instance, we can’t see if there was a slight increase or a slight decrease. So some of these smaller differences are harder to see.

Product “C” appears to be about flat. Product “B” appears to be growing. And Product “A” has had a sales spike in t3-t4 and sales are now receding toward pre-promotion levels. But all of these products have no common baseline and so there’s no way to accurately see small changes.

// The Story
I never design a graph until I know the story I’m trying to tell. At this point, the story appears to be “Product “E” is increasing and product “D” is decreasing, while overall sales are up”.

But notice something. The sum of Product “D” + Product “E” together are about the same across every time period. That suggests that sales of Product “E” are cutting into, or cannibalizing, sales of Product “D”. In other words, Product “E” is not growing the business, but simply shifting customers to a new product.

Where is the growth coming from? Product “B” and Product “A”. So I’m going to put those products as the next items in the stack.

I think of stacked bar charts like shelves on a bookcase. I want to stack my data so the important data is sitting on a shelf. For instance, I can see that Product “D” + Product “E” is basically stable. So if I stack those two products at the bottom, I will create a flat “shelf” to stack my next group. I’ll put Product “A” here.

Notice Product “C” is relatively flat so I could have left it at its current position. But it’s not an important part of this story so I’m going to tuck it at the top of the graph. Product “B” is growing and it would destroy this flat shelf on top of Products “D” and “E”. So Product “B” will also go above Product “A”.

// Color
Now I’ve got the bars stacked in the right order and now I can complete the story: “Product E sales are cannibalizing Product D, with most of the growth coming from Product A”. I typically start by using color.

Product “D” and “E” is one story and I’m going to signal that by using different shades of the same color blue. Product “A” is the second half of this story and I’m going to draw attention to that in a different color: orange. In fact, now I see that Product “B” is as much a growth driver as Product “A” so I’m also going to color code Product “B” orange.

I’m going to color code Product “C” gray. Graphs are complicated enough without having a lot of unnecessary color fighting for attention. In storytelling with graphs, gray is your friend. It allows you to have a lot of extra detail that whispers in the background.

// Finishing the Story
I’ve now found the story and I want to draw attention to that story so it’s quick and intuitive. A few finishing touches:
– I used darker colors where I want the eye to focus (Products “E” and “A”).
– I’m also going to add some arrows showing the directions of growth/decline.
– Make the gridlines a lighter gray – they don’t need to be prominent, just readable
– Make the y- and x-axis fonts smaller and more gray – again, they just need to be readable
– I’m also going to change the axis fonts to Segoe UI. The default is Calibri, but that makes your graph look like everyone else’s graph
– Delete the legend and add it directly onto the graph. No zig-zagging back and forth to read the legend
– Add the totals to the top of the stacked bar chart (add the total as one of the bars, then convert that into a line chart. Make the line color “no color” and add the data values)

The cherry on top is to put the main point in the title. Voila! Now the story is instantly clear using a stacked bar chart.

If you like this graph makeover, you’ll love my new book “Storytelling with Graphs” which shares all my secrets for drawing insights out of data and displaying data to tell a story. Subscribe to this blog to be alerted when it’s available.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Dataviz – How will a 20% import tax affect the U.S. and Mexico?

There’s been a lot of talk about Trump imposing a 20% tax on imports from Mexico to help pay for the wall. I don’t quite get this logic because it means U.S. businesses will be paying those taxes, and thus paying for the wall, not Mexico.

Anyway, as this conversation continues I thought it would be useful to really understand how much business goes on between the U.S. and Mexico, so I created this infographic. The U.S. is Mexico’s biggest trading partner, buying 73% of Mexico’s exports (Source). The pie charts, scaled to show absolute size of exports, show how crucial exports to the U.S. are for Mexico. But Mexico is the U.S.’s second-largest customer (behind Canada), so it would be damaging if Mexico retaliated with their own import taxes (Source). But Mexico clearly has more to lose.

mexico-exports-pie-charts

Notice also that most of the products that will get this new tax are cars, trucks and auto parts. About $100 billion according to this source, or about a third of their exports into the U.S. Is this just part of Trump’s strategy to force U.S. automakers to bring more jobs back into the U.S.?

Storytelling with Graphs cover

If you like this graph, you’ll love my new book “Storytelling with Graphs” which shares all my secrets for drawing insights out of data and displaying data to tell a story. I’m hoping to publish it in the next few months. Subscribe to this blog to be alerted when it’s available.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

 

Does Trump have Enough Momentum after Super Tuesday? Graphs Tell the Story

Trump is on a high after winning 7 states on Super Tuesday and now leads the GOP race. But does he have enough momentum to win 1,237 delegates?

Actually, he doesn’t. Look, he only won 42% of the delegates on Super Tuesday while Cruz won 37% – pretty close. In 2012, Romney won 54% of the Super Tuesday delegates. In 2008, McCain won 57% of them. In fact, Trump only won 34% of the popular vote compared to Romney’s 41% in 2008. So Trump doesn’t stack up too well with recent history.

Slide2And Trump currently has 46% of all delegates, still shy of the 50%  he needs to clinch the nomination. But in 2012, Romney held 50% of all delegates by Super Tuesday, and in 2008 McCain held 54%. Trump does not have the same momentum Romney and McCain had with GOP voters.

Slide3In fact, Trump has proven to be very beatable. He does well in states that hold open primaries, where Independents and Democrats are allowed to vote in the GOP race. He’s won 10 of 11 times there (4 by just a few percentage points). But in states that hold closed primaries or caucuses, where only registered Republicans can vote, Trump is only 1 for 5.

Slide5There are 1,682 delegates left in 8 caucuses, 17 closed primaries and 14 open primaries. If Trump continues to do well in open primaries, including winning key winner-take-all states, but not in closed primaries or caucuses (even winning Florida and Ohio), I project he will fall short of the 1,237 goal. In fact, 3 delegates from each state are “unbound” and can elect to vote for whichever candidate they want at the Republican convention.

Slide6

So, it appears Trump simply doesn’t have enough momentum to propel him over the 50% goal line. This will end up a brokered convention and we might even see Jeb! Bush and Scott Walker back in play. Tune in to see if my projections were right.

And if you like my graphs, look for my new book “Storytelling with Graphs” due out later this year.

Storytelling with Graphs cover

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Who are the Internet Bandwidth Hogs? Graphs Tell the Story on #MakeoverMonday

The latest #MakeoverMonday challenges us to visualize this data, showing who is using up all the internet bandwidth. I teach storytelling with graphs in my full-day workshop, and will be releasing a book soon sharing all my secrets for creating clearer and more engaging graphs. As an educational opportunity, I wanted to tackle this data set.

Slide1

1. What’s the story?
The first step to visualizing data is always going to be: what’s the story? There are actually lots of options here but I’m most interested in the fact that the top two bandwidth hogs are Netflix and YouTube – video streaming services. In fact, we also see Amazon Video Services is #4 and Hulu is #7. So we can summarize the main point as “streaming video makes up 61% of internet traffic”. And we’re going to put that summary in the graph title.

Slide3

2. What does this look like?
One of the questions I begin asking upfront is “what does this look like in real life?” Because that will suggest the type of graph or table that will bring the data to life. Storytelling with graphs is not about just visualizing data. It’s choosing graphs and other design elements that make the data look more like the real event being measured.

In this case, I’m already visualizing in my head an internet pipe carrying data broken into different lanes. Each lane’s width could represent each data series, showing size by the width of the lane. To finish the look, I’ll add a transmission tower on the left and a house on the right. Now we’ve peeled the lid off the data and are peering down into the actual thing being measured…internet traffic.

Slide43. Highlighting
We want to draw attention to certain parts of the graph so we use darker colors for the slices that represent streaming video services. We also use larger and bolder fonts for the largest sections. Everything else stays gray so it whispers in the background. It’s readable, but not calling attention to itself.

Slide54. Logos
We’re using the icons of the transmission tower and house. But I also want to use the logos for the video streaming services. Logos have emotional impact, especially logos we associate with fun and enjoyment. Many people feel excited when they watch Netflix start up on their TV or computer, and we can harness those emotions by using the logo. Similar feelings might be embedded in the YouTube, Amazon and Hulu logos. The logos also act like signposts, directing the reader’s attention to where we want them to look.

Slide65. Color
I could use any color for the highlighting. But I’m going to use the exact red you find in the Netflix logo. Fortunately, it also matches the YouTube logo pretty closely. How did I get the exact color match? By using a free software tool called Color Cop.

Slide76. Motion
Finally, I want to really give the impression of internet traffic flowing left to right, and not just a stacked bar chart. That reinforces the idea of bandwidth traffic. So I create an impression of the shape bending forward. I did this by adding a triangle, filling it in with white and then removing the outline, like this.

Slide8And voila! Here is our finished graph!

Slide9Storytelling with graphs is more than just visualizing data. It’s bringing the data to life in a way that engages the audience and encourages understanding and discussion. Look for my new book “Storytelling with Graphs” which should be released in the next few months. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get an email when it’s available.

Storytelling with Graphs cover

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Will Trump Win GOP Primary Race? Graphs Tell the Story.

Trump was narrowly defeated in Iowa, where he was the favorite just days before the election. Cruz won (some say “stole”) and Rubio surged into a breathing-down-your-neck third place. The actual vote was quite different than the polls predicted. What happened?

Iowa polls versus resultsThis is an important question because if the polls were wrong about Trump winning Iowa, could they be wrong about Trump winning in New Hampshire, and perhaps even the GOP presidential nomination?

One part of the explanation is late-deciders, those voters who don’t make a decision until the week before the vote, or even the day of the vote. Oh, if a researcher calls and asks who they favor, they will give an answer. But some are not committed to that answer all the way through to the voting booth. They change their minds.

Surveys find anywhere from 25% to 45% of voters are still undecided a week before they vote. In 2012 entrance/exit polls (NY Times, CNN), researchers asked people as they were going into the vote (or leaving) “when did you make your decision?”. On average, 32% of voters made their decision THAT WEEK.

Slide3

Yikes! So there are a lot of people who answer polls months before they vote, but don’t stick with their choice on election day. They don’t decide until the last minute.

In Iowa, we see that nearly ONE HALF of voters didn’t make their choice until the week before the election. And the later they decided, the less likely they were to vote for Trump. Instead, they tended to favor Rubio (28%) and Cruz (22%). Of those who decided in the last week, only 15% selected Trump.

Slide4

That makes sense, doesn’t it? Many studies found the people who supported Trump were also the most convicted. Trump recently bragged he could shoot someone and not lose his supporters. One CNN reporter quipped “If Donald Trump punched a baby in the face, Trump’s supporters would say that baby had it coming.” But that also means if you weren’t swept up in Trumpomania three months ago, you aren’t likely to be swept up on voting day.

We saw the same thing in 2012. Ten days before the Iowa caucus, polls had Rick Santorum at just 8%. But he surprised with 25% of the vote! That’s, in part, because 39% of voters were undecided until the last minute. And among those undecided voters, 35% chose Santorum.

Slide5

The undecided voter will play a bigger part in the Republican race than in the Democratic race. We see that the polls were very accurate for Bernie and Hillary. But we also see that only 20% of voters were undecided heading into the Democratic caucuses. Again, this makes perfect sense. There are only two candidates, so it’s easier to differentiate their personalities and policies. And they are relatively divisive personalities. You either love or hate Bernie’s socialist ideas. And you either love or hate Hillary’s brash style. Nearly 60% had made up their minds several months ago!

Slide6

But it’s different for the Republicans. There are still 8 strong candidates duking it out, and it’s not so easy to distinguish their differences. You are likely to stay undecided longer and vacillate up to voting day. But as candidates drop out and it’s easier to distinguish the remaining candidates, voters will rally behind Cruz and Rubio – not Trump.

A Feb 4, 2016 survey by Public Policy Polling found that in a 3-candidate or 4-candidate race (Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Bush – strangely, they didn’t include Carson) voters rally behind Marco Rubio and vault him ahead of Trump.

Slide7And that’s one problem with the polls over the past several months: asking someone to choose among 14 candidates. That’s not how the primaries will play out in the coming months. Candidates will drop and we’ll be asked to choose from three or four candidates, not 14. Of the 8 remaining candidates, we’ll see more drop out after disappointing results in New Hampshire — probably Fiorina and Christie.

Those who remain will face a budget crisis – it’s expensive to keep campaigning beyond New Hampshire. Christie and Kasich each have less than $5 million in the bank (compared to $50 million for Cruz and $25 million for Rubio). Ben Carson recently slashed half his staff because of dwindling funds. Donors don’t like to keep spending money on a long shot. By mid-March we’ll be down to three or four candidates.

What does this mean? It means the January polls are not going to be good predictors of the Republican primary results. There will be a lot of people deciding on the last day. And those people not already committed to Trump won’t be easily swayed on the day of voting.

As the field winnows down, voters will migrate to the remaining candidates – likely Rubio and Cruz – and not the Donald.

New Hampshire will be a critical battleground. Trump has a commanding lead in the polls (29% vs 12% for both Rubio and Cruz). But in 2012, 46% of voters decided the week before the primary elections and all indications are that it will be similar this year.

Paul, Huckabee and Santorum have already dropped out, thinning the field – where will their supporters go?  Independent voters in New Hampshire can choose to vote in the Democratic or the Republican contest, further clouding where the votes will land. Strong showings by Cruz and Rubio in Iowa are likely to sway undecided GOP voters to put their votes “where they will count”. In fact the latest poll shows Rubio is up to 19% (Trump is still at 29%), illustrating the effect of the late deciders.

Trump will still be a formidable candidate throughout these primaries. But I expect undecided voters will put their weight behind Rubio and Cruz, especially as the field thins, and Trump’s results will be lower than the polls predict in most states. Come back later to see if I’m right.

And if you like my graphs, look for my new book “Storytelling with Graphs”, which shares all my secrets for analyzing data, choosing and designing graphs, and even using storytelling principles to make graphs more engaging. It should be released early this year.

Storytelling with Graphs cover

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.