Sloppy Charts

Business Insider writers seem to be enamored with unclear charts-and don't do a great job describing them. With the headline, "These Are The Charts You're Going To Be Seeing In Powerpoints And Mobile For The Next Year," the article shows 13 charts, none of which follow business writing principles.

The first one shown, about mobile data traffic, is pretty, but makes it difficult to distinguish the data and draw any meaningful conclusions except that things are going up (for which we probably don't need a chart).

A skeptic might ask the following: 

  • Is mobile service-provider Ericcson the most objective source for this data?
  • What are the actual numbers for each year? This is impossible to see.
  • What are the different data types referenced in the chart heading? Which is yellow, blue, etc.?
  • What's an extabyte, anyway?
  • How well can people distinguish aqua blue from green, and why are they next to each other? I'm guessing that people who are color blind can barely distinguish these line sections.
  • Is the last year 201?

The article text is equally problematic. Note the errors: 

Every year, Ericsson puts together a massive report on global mobile usuage trends.

The charts and data in this report then proliferates through Powerpoints and slide decks around the world.

So, get a jump start on everyone else in the industry and…

Discussion Starters:

  • What other issues do you see with this chart?
  • Review the 12 other charts. How they can be improved to meet business writing standards?