Infographic by Will Conway, Xin He, and Krithika Swaminathan

Infographic by Will Conway, Xin He, and Krithika Swaminathan
1 Comment
John A. Hawkinson over 7 years ago

This chart is...very difficult to read.

Why was this information not presented in a simple table?

The key thing this chart is missing is "direct labeling"; in order to interpret the answer to a question, it is necessary to indirectly look up what each of the letters means. So for a category with five schools, that's five lookups, or five head-switch-whiplashes. Infographics should try to encourage direct labelling as much as possible -- any time there is a legend, a redesign should be contemplated.

If this were presented as a table with one row per school, or one column per school, it would be much easier to read, and much easier to compare. (It could also have had the full names of schools inside each category, instead of one letter initials. That solves some problems while creating others.)

Furthermore, the choice to center the circles horizontally hurts comparability. If 'M' were in the same horizontal position in all categories, it would be much easier to see trends. Ideally the chart would let you easily see how the schools stack up against each other.

With respect to the categories in the first row, how is it possible for Stanford to both offer gender-neutral housing "for all class years" (top left) and also offer it ONLY for upperclassmen (top right)? In all other cases the two categories are mutually exclusive and add up to all schools, so one wonders if Dartmouth was inadvertently omitted?

P.S.: Not including a caption on this chart was a missed opportunity to highlight some of the content from the article. The choice of the house ad directly beneath this (see PDF) appears to have been quite...unfortunate.