Verse 12 of 10+ Ways to Leave Your Pie Chart

My company recently became an Alteryx partner and I wanted to stretch my imagination on how to fulfill the promise of this blog series, and do something pretty cool.

This final verse delivers a unique viz combining the data visualization power of Tableau + Alteryx (and replaces the pie charts from Verse 11)!

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  My hope is you used some of the ideas discussed — and continue the crusade to stop The Tyranny of Pie Charts™

Please take a moment to leave a comment; share what you’ve been able to apply and how that’s changed the way you communicate and discuss data.

Attend my webinars or caught me in the right mood? Then you know The Tyranny of Pie Charts™ I recently heard Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and was inspired to create this blog series. He only lists five ways, so I’m doubling the ante. These ideas are designed to equally inspire you to leave those pie charts. EXCELSIOR! This blog series launched on March 14, Pi Day. Here’s the pie chart view that will receive of a healthy dose of criticism.


  • Ughh. I’m sure there’s a use for that somewhere, but to my eye it’s neither informative nor attractive. Trying to eliminate pie charts simply for the arbitrary goal of removing them is just as bad (actually, probably worse) as blindly using them everywhere! Pie charts aren’t always bad, and the alternatives are sometimes (much) worse.

  • Lee Feinberg says:

    Frank, I greatly appreciate your comment — and yes, this concept could be used in more specific cases vs. a general replacement for pie charts. There are two big ideas behind this post: 1) to creatively experiment with how Alteryx’s geo spatial capabilities could be applied within a Tableau data visualization, 2) expand thinking around alternatives to pie charts and lead folks to explore new ideas within their work. Thanks again for being part of the conversation!

  • Omar says:

    I think both your comment, and Frank’s are right…ish.

    What I mean is that the use of pie charts in as many different circumstances as they are today is not good. There are though some cases where they are useful, but there are far fewer than people seem to think.

    On the topic of your Viz, I can respect the conceptual stance you’ve taken, but there’s a lesson here of “a vizualzation on it’s own can convey the message clearly every time without thought.”

    What I mean is it’s about framing the viz as much as it is the viz itself.

    Every design begins with a question. And based on your title of “% of Sales in Category Compared to Top Category” implies that the question you were trying to answer was “How much better is the Top Category than the other two?” or “How much better is one category compared to another.” all of this on a per state basis with no relation to the other states.

    And this is where your viz fails. It fails because by indicating that this viz depicts a comparative view of the categories against each other, you have effectively made the same mistake as the people that use Pie Charts entirely improperly.

    The human eye doesn’t gauge size nearly as well as would be needed to identify the % difference just by looking at them as we do in a pie chart or in your Viz.

    However, if the conceptual question that you began with was only slightly different, your viz would have been immediately effective.

    For example, if your question was “What is the Best/Worse performing category in each state?” that’s very clear.

    Another useful use case would be trying to answer “In which states does my company outperform our two closest competitors?” or something along those lines.

    By omitting the comparative nature of % values, a viz like this, or a pie chart can be useful to answer questions about best/worst categorization, or questions where a more definitive answer like yes or no are all that’s needed.

    Oh, and maybe tone down the intensity of the categories that you’re not trying to highlight. Try Tableau 10 Light or Medium. So if you want to show the worst performers, leave that on and change top category and the other to a lighter shade. Reverse if you want to identify more easily who the Top Performer is.

    • leefeinberg says:

      There are many possible titles, so I guess it can become subjective. This does show exactly what is stated as the intention isn’t to know the % at first, just to compare the relative sizes. I think your ideas are good for communicating the alternate messages. Thanks for your thoughtful contribution!

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