How to improve the perception of bar charts?

Problem : in order to “read” a regular bar chart, you have to additionally look for a key to understand it — read a signature like “less means better” .

Nirazu is not symbolic and, as a result, slows down perception and is fraught with errors. But the diagrams were created just in order to provide information at this symbolic level, and not to force reading the text (hello to the tables). Thus, these accompanying labels contradict the very idea of ​​the diagram.

An additional difficulty is that if there are a lot of diagrams in one place, it becomes difficult to switch between opposing positions: “the smaller, the better” and "The more, the better . "

The problem
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Objective : on a symbolic level, show who wins and who loses (which side is good and which side is bad).

I enter the symbol of "win"

A certain symbol can indicate the “winning” column (something approving, symbolizing victory, depending on the situation):
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Here the hand points to the only winning column and, at the same time, shows that there, on the right, “good”.

I would not use two symbols at the same time to designate different poles (“win” and “loss”), since the user will have to identify each of them and then choose between them - this, in my opinion, takes precious nanoseconds. And choosing between “there is something” and “there is nothing” will be easier. One pole is enough. (However, I will not give any other evidence besides these.)

Synthetic Charts

Such charts combine the results of many tests, so there will be no single winner (in the general case). I will try to move the victory symbol to the axis, visually combining with the maximum value on the scale:
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In this case, I use the metaphor of the sky (larger values ​​go up into the blue sky). Additionally, everywhere on the diagram is empty, and only at one of the edges something gradually appears, then emptiness is zero, saturation is maximum. In general, the brightness gradient is well and is a smooth flow from minimum to maximum and vice versa; quite clearly in theory:
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Although sometimes gradients are used simply “for beauty” - this can interfere.

(However, my words above only try to ex post factum justify the existence of the gradient. How it actually works, I do not know for sure; there are doubts.)
However, in the case of “less is better” the gradient works worse or doesn't work at all - from the left edge the elements are too tight, unlike the right one. Try to see it here at all (-:
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It’s interesting that they tell you - I’m no longer able to look at them freshly ...
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Color highlighting

In some cases, the winner could be highlighted in color, but the diagrams are now colorful (each column has its own color), so it will not always work out. And picking up an unambiguous color for expressing thoughts is not easy.

“What did you want to say?”

In general, diagrams do not just exist - they are designed to express some specific thought. There are probably cold, impartial individuals, but nevertheless, when drawing a diagram, you should ask yourself, “but do I want to express some concrete thought through this?”, Even if I may have a little understanding of it. For example, "Habr is now not the same" or "Ubunta all *** e and *** e with each release . " Then there is a chance that the Great Power of the Context will descend, and the thought can be expressed not in a general way, but in the most effective and appropriate way. And it will become possible, for example, to award the winner (if the "winner") with a virtual medal.

* * *

If you saw examples of diagrams successfully solved in this regard, or have something to say on the topic, I ask in the comment. Only pain doesn’t hurt - this is just my sixteenth post on Habré.


Another version, for the situation “less is better” :
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As a minimal fix, you can convert the phrases “less is better” to this:
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Simple, but you will have to think a lot less.

There are many more ideas and thoughts in the comments.

We transform everything into "more is better"

I think “more is better” is perceived more naturally, more familiarly and therefore faster. It remains to transform each diagram into this “paradigm”.

We convert the values: the time spent on the passage of the track - at the average speed on the track.

But this is not always possible, and then we will draw the columns not on the left, but on the right! At first it was quite difficult for me to understand, but maybe the X axis, and the marks on it remained as they were:

Further reading

Gene Zelazny Offline Book Speak Chart Language (Thanks Zagrebelion )