Alternative Visualizations for Data-Driven Storytelling | by Michal Szudejko | Nov, 2023

Why to choose them, and how to create them

Michal Szudejko
Towards Data Science
F1 car made of wood.
Source: image generated by the author in ChatGPT and DALL-e 3.

Did you know that all Formula 1 cars must incorporate a large wooden plank as one of their components?

A wooden plank?

Yes, indeed!

Formula 1 cars utilize a wooden plank, the “skid block,” positioned underneath the car. This ensures the car’s height remains within the legally mandated limits during races. Moreover, the plank serves as a critical safety feature, sacrificing scraping against the track to shield the car’s essential components from potential damage when contacting curbs. Importantly, its impact on performance is minimal. The skid block is crafted from a composite material of wood and fibers and is designed to wear at a steady pace.¹

Why do I mention this? This anecdote highlights that even a technologically advanced field such as Formula 1 can effectively utilize a (theoretically) simple component . This parallel extends to the realm of data visualization. As I have argued on numerous occasions, most data-driven insights can be adeptly communicated using three basic chart types: bar chart, line chart, and pie chart.

But what if these three types fall short of capturing the essence of the phenomenon we’re attempting to explain? Or what if we employ multiple simple charts instead of a single, but slightly more complex, one? Or, returning to our F1 example, we simply decided to replace wood with carbon fiber and draw something more fancy? In this post, I will explore the alternatives available to you should such scenario occur.

The goal is to provide an overview of alternative data visualization forms. So, I’m going to talk about chart options beyond the traditional triumvirate of bar, line, and pie charts, which I consider the default choice for most cases anyway.

That said, I fully recognize the wealth of other visualization options that are available. I usually consider using them when the conventional trio doesn’t fit the bill. Here, I’ll introduce you to a selection of visualization forms that I find particularly valuable. I will also guide you through some…

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.

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