TV is Pre-Eminently the Medium for Unreadable 3D Charts

Thomas de Beus
Jun 24, 2017 · 3 min read

The Dutch Talkshow Jinek fell into the trap of showing a 3D bar graph from the exit poll of the UK elections May 2017. Numerous times TV shows are proving that their graphic designers don’t have a clue what they’re doing when it comes to communicating data.

Every information designer/data journalist/graphic reporter/visual journalist will tell you that most 3D charts are hard to interpret. They unnecessarily distort the data and lack clarity. See for yourself:

3D version on the left and a quick 2D version on the right.

To be fair, this difference is still a bit negligible. However, the crux lies in the question of the talk show host Eva Jinek. She asked when referring to the 3D bar chart: “Here you see the exit polls, what’s your first reaction to this outcome?”

The guest gave an elaborated answer because he knew the numbers before the elections but we, the audience, were unable to see that ourselves in this chart. Why? Just because the data isn’t comparing anything. So how do we know which parties did good and which parties would lose seats?

Maybe the next redesign isn’t suitable for the TV screen, but its information density is a lot higher. With one sentence, the talk show host could explain the charts, and viewers will gain immediate insights.

Redesign

Now ask yourself the important questions of the UK election 2017:

  1. How did the three biggest parties (Tories, Labour, SNP) do?

See? I wish the graphic department at tv-shows would learn a little more about how to communicate numbers to viewers.

This is part 8 of the series Data Visualisation Redesigned for the Better.

You can find the code behind the redesign on the Colourful Facts Github repo. For more redesigns and other data journalism/visualisation related articles, go to my blog:

Do you stumble upon a crappy graph? Please let me know! Cheers 🙂

Colourful Facts

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