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In Defense of Pie Charts in the Real World

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 by Masha

Absolutely! I agree with our earlier post, Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts.  Information is beautiful in charts like Caffeine and Calories. I would use this or a similar treatment each and every time the client says: “Designer, go forth with this here unlimited budget and a whenever deadline, and just… CREATE!”

Alas, the world of business graphics is a small box with little wiggle room. First, you’re beholden to branding guidelines, often prohibitive of cutesy pictures. Second, the budgets are narrow and the amount of time we designers are given to turn around time-sensitive business data will take your breath away.

So, we call upon the workhorse which is PowerPoint. In PowerPoint, we plot out vital information in yes, pie charts, which every single soul can interpret at a glance.

In his epic Say it with Charts: the Executive’s Guide to Visual Communication, Gene Zelazny of McKinsey&Company explains, “Because a circle gives such a clear impression of being a total, a pie chart is ideally suited for the one purpose it serves: showing the size of each part as a percentage of some whole, such as companies that make up an industry.”

Is there a cleaner way to show this?

Content Bureau Teammates’ Feelings About Pie Charts (n = 25)

piechart

I know it’s just a humble circle, but we have yet to invent something better than the wheel.

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Snuffing Out Deadly Dull Buzzwords

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 by Chris

At the height of the dotcom era, a few high-tech journalists created “Buzz Saw,” an email filter that would bounce messages from PR and marketing people who larded their pitches with overused buzzwords. If you laid it on too thick with catchphrases like “bleeding-edge,” and “strategic paradigm,” not only did your email get bounced, but […]

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Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 by Alicia

Sometimes we copywriter people need to be put in our place. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL does it.

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Lives by the Column Inch

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 by Alicia

Newspaper obits describe the fabulous lives of uncelebrated people.

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Surfing Words

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 by Lucy S.

The ocean captivates, its countenance fickle. Now darkness. Cold, frothy giants pound in unrelenting rhythm, giving no purchase to board or fin. Now light. A twinkling surface throwing back the glow of sun, a glassy caress of warm water—then a clean line easily discovered after a smooth drop in. Surfing that roiling, infinitely faceted sea […]

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Fun with Newspaper Corrections

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 by Chris

From The New York Times, December 24, 2009: “A picture caption with an article in some editions on Tuesday about continuing transportation problems after the weekend snowstorm misidentified the location of a pile of slush in the Bronx. It was on Fordham Road, not Fordham Avenue.” Anyone else share my love of journalism corrections—especially fabulously […]

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Name Brands: Not Just for Consumers Anymore

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 by Partner Laurel Sutton, Catchword

Have you been watching 30 Rock lately? Or The Office? CSI:NY? Heroes? If so, you probably know about Cisco TelePresence, a high-end videoconferencing system that makes it seem as if everyone participating in a virtual meeting is actually in the same room. Cisco TelePresence is a B2B brand—at least, it started out as one when […]

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Speech-Crafting Lessons from the White House

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 by Chris

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s hard to deny that President Obama has brought powerful speech-giving back to the White House. Much of the credit goes to Obama himself. The award-winning author is heavily involved in the drafting of his speeches—and packs a punch with his delivery. It is also clear […]

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Design Trend for 2010: Purple

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 by Todd

Calling trends is classic chicken-egg stuff: does a tendency only become a trend when one labels it so? The line is thin and grey enough that by the time most trends are “predicted,” they’re actually simply being reported. But the stakes are low here, so let’s play pundit. Over the years, I’ve gone through a […]

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How to Write a Review of a Classical Concert You Didn’t Attend

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 by Keven

Staying late at the office one Friday night, you take a casual look at the list of quarterly deliverables your boss is expecting from you. Produce a new 500-page microsite. Check. (Thanks, Content Bureau!) Update all marketing collateral with screen shots of a yet-to-be-built middleware platform. Check. (Thanks, summer intern!) Write a 400-word review of […]

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