Category Archives: Showing Data

I’m Giving Away Free Data Viz Makeovers

Have a deck full of awful, tired pie charts that aren’t cutting it?  Embarrassed by your monthly sales dashboard? Can’t get your boss to spring for a professional makeover of your signature SEO results?

Here’s the deal

I train organizations all over the country on how to better communicate their data and create effective data visualizations. And for a short period, I am providing completely free makeovers of existing charts for you and your organization.

Here’s the catch

I’m making this offer to obtain new real-world examples of data sets and visualizations for use in my trainings. So, in exchange for my design work, you agree to allow me the use of the data and makeovers however I choose.

“But my data is sensitive and proprietary!” No problem. I’m happy to:

  • Sign any required NDAs.
  • After delivering your makeover, scrub charts of identifying data, logos, color and information resulting in a “generic” version for which you will grant final written approval for me to use.

Note: You must be capable of providing such final approval for your organization…

What else?

  • I’ll look at any data and existing charts, but am most interested in those related to marketing, media, advertising, digital research, sales and any work by agencies.
  • I’m looking for challenges and diversity of information, so I probably won’t be interested in making over 100 identical column charts of monthly sales.
  • My focus is on simplicity of messaging and charts that the average user can create using typical tools; if you’re looking for interactive “data art,” that’s not me.
  • I reserve the right to decline any project or portion of project for any reason.
  • I do need to work around paying projects and trainings, but won’t leave you hanging forever.

Contact me at, and feel free to forward this offer on to anyone else you know. First come, first served!


Categories: Showing Data.

New Podcast: Data Talks

There’s a new podcast in town all about data and technology and how it shapes our world. And guess what? I’m the inaugural guest for episode 1.

Data Talks is hosted by Ashutosh Nandeshwar, an analytics guru, PhD and data specialist.

Take a listen as we talk about visual storytelling and make sure to subscribe and rate it.

And if you aren’t a subscriber to The Presentation Podcast, um…why aren’t you a subscriber to to The Presentation Podcast?



Wall Street Journal False Advertising: Data Viz Edition

Ugh. The deceptive proportional shape rears its head again, this time courtesy of a Wall Street Journal ad I saw this weekend in the print edition. And to be clear, this is an add FOR The Wall Street Journal.


Any average reader looking at the above ad would know instantly that The Wall Street Journal dwarfs its competitors when it comes to reaching senior executives. But any data visualization professional (or mathematician), would know instantly that the Journal is being incredibly dishonest with their graphic. Why? Because the Journal is using the diameter of the circles as comparison rather than the area. And when you use the diameter, you’re exaggerating and essentially telling a visual lie because of how readers process a chart like this.

If you read the detail lower in the ad, the claim is made that WSJ has twice the reach of The New York Times. But when readers see sized circles, they assume the area of the circles is the indicator of the amounts being compared. We can do a quick test to see that that assumption would be completely wrong.:

Overlaying The New York Times circle on top of the WSJ, we see that nearly four of the Times’s audiences would fit into that of the WSJ.


But wait, the WSJ only has twice the audience reach, right? Why is their circle so massive? Because…the WSJ wants to make their audience reach look much larger than it actually is. They want to use data visualization to fool readers into thinking they are even better than the Times in this metric than they actually are. And they do this by using the diameter of the circles.



Yes, the diameter of the WSJ is 200% that of the Times. But that’s not how these things work.

A proper use of proportional shapes for this data would look something like this:



To make matters worse, Microsoft doesn’t do the world any favors by tacitly allowing this kind of data deception. I can’t speak for other data visualization software, but PowerPoint and Excel allow the user to choose either area or width when creating bubble charts–a type of proportional shape visualization.

If you’re a user of Excel and PowerPoint, you can use bubble graphs to create proportional shapes for you and break apart the charts into shapes using some hacks, but a far easier way to create properly sized proportional shapes is to use my Proportional Shape Calculator tool–a simple Excel calculator you can download from the goodies page on this site. To gain access to that page, subscribe to PresentYourStory here and you’ll be sent a link with your confirmation email.


John Maeda’s Design in Tech Report 2017

Interesting insights into state of design from John Maeda.

Download PDF from Slideshare as slideshow rasterizes horribly.

And interesting poor data design practices. Come on, percentage axes not labeled as “%”, missing axes, those sized circle things, legends…There is a point where removing too much from a data visualization causes is to take longer to read.


visual training presentation