This graph advising job hunters which sort of startup company to approach does just about everything wrong. Includes chickens
As data visualisation has grown more and more popular it has become more likely that among the brilliant examples of how to display numbers there are also going to be some naff ones.
We’re not going to pretend it’s easy to visualise data well and there are sometimes situations where people can be too rough on creators. However, when you stumble across a visualisation like this, it’s clear that there are some people who are simply doing it wrong.
Data visualisation has a few golden rules to it at whatever level of complexity but this one actually seems to break every single one in a crescendo of brilliance. This is how:
Spelling and grammar
We’ve all done it before at some point but when you make a mistake do not make it in the title.
The infographic is looking at the startup community and is advising workers which sort of company to work for. Regardless of all that it asks “What stage startut should I choose?”.
And although it says “fever than 10 employees”, which besides the typo is grammatically correct, it goes on to say “less than 5 million employees”. It was almost there.
Don’t use the wrong type of graph
This has effectively been laid out as a pie chart when it is exactly what you’re not supposed to show in that form.
Although many people do make this mistake, a pie chart should only be used for comparing parts of a whole. However, they are looking at four different things.
It seems that the creator never intended this to be a pie chart. If they did then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
The segment with 36% is smaller than the one with 19%, the others aren’t sized proportionately and the centre is not in the centre.
Don’t get it wrong
The chart tells us 41% of startups have fewer than 10 employees and 19% have 10-24 employees. This means that 60% of startups have fewer than 24 employees.
However, the other segment tells us 38% have “less” than 5m employees. 60% plus 38% does not equal 100% so that means 2% of companies have more than 5m employees.
That is assuming that the “less than 5m employees” is a subbing error and actually means companies with workforces between 25 and 5m.
If not that would have meant that in the last year 62% of startupsovertook one of the world’s largest employers, the US defence department which has 3.2m people working there. Funny that does not seem to show up in the employment stats…
Some more weird kinks
Why is the segment with 38% slightly shaded when all the others are not? Anyone have any ideas?
What does the number of chickens in each segment mean? There are five in the “less than 5 million employees” category, which has a value of 38% but just one in the “are pre revenue”, which has a value of 36%.
My only guess for this is that it’s attempting to show, which are the best measures for places where you would get a job. In which case, the five chickens say “go for a company with less than 5 million employees”. Probably a good move.
Finally, I’m pretty sure that barn would not be structurally sound. No wonder those chickens are attempting to hitchhike out of there.
Why are there chickens in this graphic? Why do the chickens have thumbs? Is the barn a startup? Are they referencing the chicken and egg startup problem? When you look at the full graphic, as Sion Palmer at Tech City News points out, it’s a journey from hatchling through to fledgling. Maybe. Sort of. I don’t know.
This is not to vilify one designer but to give a warning to all. It would be hard to find someone who had done work that could not be mocked and looking at her site she’s actually done some brilliant stuff.
Please tweet us any examples you have of bad data visualisation or let us know in the comments below.
This article was amended on December 18 to distinguish between the 2% figure and the 62% figure in the “Don’t get it wrong section”.
Original article can be found on The Guardian website.