“We need this chart to have more bang”

And so the graphics department makes a 3D version of the chart. Because 3D looks cool, you know. But the problem is that the cost for this kind of bang is clarity. And the currency is trust.

3D sounds cool and (sometimes) looks cool. But never does it increase clarity. Not a single time. Every single 3D chart is harder to read than its 2D equivalent (as long as we are talking about 2D data, of course).

In essence, there is only one reason why 3D effects in charting software exists. And that is to sell charting software. Software sells better when it has more features that sound cool. But just because a feature exists, doesn’t mean that you have to use it.

When you want a chart to have more bang, it’s much more useful to ask yourself what’s wrong with the data rather than with the visualisation. Real bang comes from relevance rather than appearance. The currency is still trust. Only this time the cost is work.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

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