A reader named Jess has asked my opinion on a set of charts in China vs United States: A Visual Comparison. I’ve captured part of one chart below. I found these visualizations interesting and fairly self-explanatory.
Some commenters seemed confused by the flow of the charts, as directed by the green lines and arrows. I though that the flow was apparent, wth arrows leading from a broader statistic to a more granular breadown.
Many commentators disliked the lack of scale or data labels. My first impression was that the charts are showing qualitative or semi-quantitative comparisons, and that the tallest bar in a logical grouping of bars represents the largest value, and values of the other bars are proportional to their heights relative to this tallest bar.
A little quantitative information never hurts, of course. Including a simple data label at the top of each bar would add an increment of value to these displays.
In any case, I think this is more effective than a lot of the chaff being passed off nowadays as information visualization.
What do you think?