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Brad

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 

Hi,

I’m looking for suggestions on best practices for displaying both monthly sales and % change year-on-year simultaneously. I have a display featuring bullet graphs that show progress toward year-to-date target, followed by bars showing the trend for the last 9 months. See image. What I’m struggling with is the best way to also show - for each of those 9 months – the % change in sales from the same month the previous year. A 2nd set of bars to right? Or perhaps small triangles under each bar – green and pointing up for positive % increase and red and pointing down for negative - both changing in intensity based on amount of change? Any suggestions?

Thanks!

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Jeff

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Posts: 53
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi, Brad. 

Lines are often more effective for displaying trends than a series of bars. Given that you want to find a way to show % change over last year, I'd try plotting each trend as a line above or below a horizontal axis that represents 0%. (You probably want to get rid of the horizontal row dividers if you do this, or you'll have too many lines.)

Other comments:
  • I'm not sure how to interpret the bullet graphs. I take it that the black vertical lines represent the targets. What do the different shades of gray behind the pink/red bars represent? 
  • Pink and red may not be the best color encodings to communicate what you're doing. Red tends to be a good choice for "bad" in our part of the world, but since pink is basically light red it makes one wonder whether the pink bars are good, or mildly bad. I would consider going with something neutral for good, and perhaps using a color like red to call out exceptions, if needed. 
  • If you go with the line graphs for the % change, you might be able to do away with the color encoding altogether, as both charts will use position to communicate performance against a given reference point.
Hope this helps.
Jeff
Brad

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #3 

Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the great feedback; it’s very helpful. Good point on the pink; it is a corporate brand color but agree it’s less than ideal for this purpose.

The bullet graphs show YTD sales against target. The qualitative bands show 60% and 80% of YTD target levels. (There's a legend elsewhere on the view). Red indicates less than 60% of target achieved and this is the same for the monthly bars – which is why I used bars rather than lines as it seemed easier to call out below target months with discrete bars.

I’ve tried using lines to show the % change from previous month in a new column. I’d be interested in your or others opinion on whether this works well – perhaps better than simply putting the % change figure on or below the bars displaying overall sales.Trying to display overall sales, sales vs target and MoM % change in an efficient way.

Thanks again!

Brad

image.JPG 


Jeff

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Posts: 53
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi, Brad. The blue is a lot better. :)

Not surprisingly (since I suggested them) the lines work for me. However, I find the color gradients of the lines distracting. As far as I can tell the color doesn't provide any additional information, and my eye keeps tracing the suggested contours of a red shape that probably isn't meaningful.

The middle graph seems to be good if you are showing which locations missed their targets month-to-month. I would expect that the red here means the same thing as it does in the left graph--that they fell below 60% of their target.

I hesitate to dole out a lot of specific advice without knowing how this will be used, but one last suggestion is that alphabetical listing is probably not the most useful for facilitating comparisons. In order to make the left graph most useful, I'd suggest sorting the locations by sales volume. Or, if performance against target is more important for your purposes than volume, I'd sort by that and change the x axis to % (so that the target line and the zones are the same for each row). Either way, this makes it easier to see where each location is within the overall picture.

Jeff
Brad

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Jeff,
Thanks again for the insightful feedback. Taking the color off the lines did not affect much so - as you indicated - they were not adding value and were a bit confusing with the red elsewhere.
Will take your suggestion and try different sorting options as well.
Thanks.
Steve
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