In his June 12, 2012 post titled, “The Rise of Chrome and the Fall of Internet Explorer“, Slate.com’s author, Matthew Yglesias took some data and made the following chart.
This chart is supposed to show browser market share over time. Instead, it confused his readers to the level that, out of the 55 comments the post received (as of June 14, 2012), more than half were complaints about the bad chart.
Mr. Yglesias’ mistake isn’t uncommon. Excel has made it easy for anyone to create a graph, but Excel hasn’t made it easy for anyone to create a good graph. The Business Intelligence Guru wants all of you graph makers out there to KEEP IT SIMPLE. The only exceptions to the KEEP IT SIMPLE charting rule are for Charles Minard and Amanda Cox, they’ve got the chops to mix it up a little.
With the understanding that simpler is usually better, here’s a simple line chart reinterpreting Mr. Yglesias’ confusing graph. One addition, or subtraction, there’s no need to go out two decimal places on the Y axis. Those extra digits add no value to the graph, in fact, they eat up valuable space and lower the data to ink ratio.