It's not all doom and gloom in the land of school data visualisation. I was sent this yesterday:
No trends, no gridlines and not even a standard chart. But it gets the point across to the intended audience - that is parents who are looking at the school web site to find out "stuff" about the school.
The chart allows the reader to see instantly how well this school compared to National Average for Five A*-C grades (incl English & Maths). A bit of eye candy (shaded people representing the bars) and we're good to go.
I'm not sure, but I hazard a guess that this "chart" was actually composed in a drawing / illustrating package - but it could equally have been put together in Powerpoint (or Excel) and the image saved as a JPG.
No Excel needed.
Personally, I'd have rounded the 52.6% to 53% as the extra precision is not helpful to the reader. And if I was being extra picky, the icon graphic is stereotypically "male" - but I can't think of a way round it - and the "gender neutral icons" all look slightly odd to me:
Not to detract from this school that has clearly thought through who the audience is and what they want to see.
Call to action
- Don't use charts when images will do
- Think outside Excel
- Think what your readers want from the data you present