chapter 9 case studies

At this point, you should feel like you have a solid foundation for communicating effectively with data. In this penultimate chapter, we explore strategies for tackling common challenges faced when communicating with data through a number of case studies.

Specifically, we’ll discuss:

  • Color considerations with a dark background
  • Leveraging animation in the visuals you present
  • Establishing logic in order
  • Strategies for avoiding the spaghetti graph
  • Alternatives to pie charts

Within each of these case studies, I’ll apply the various lessons we’ve covered when it comes to communicating effectively with data, but will limit my discussion mainly to the specific challenge at hand.

CASE STUDY 1: Color considerations with a dark background

When it comes to communicating data, I don’t typically recommend anything other than a white background. Let’s take a look at what a simple graph looks like on a white, blue, and black background. See Figure 9.1.


Figure 9.1 Simple graph on white, blue, and black background

If you had to describe in a single word how the blue and black backgrounds in Figure 9.1 make you feel, what would that word be? For me, it would be heavy. With the white background, I find it easy to focus on the data. The dark backgrounds, on the other hand, pull my eyes there—to the background—and away from the data. Light elements on a dark background ...

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