The only way to use a pie chart

A good part of my daily work as a business analyst / product designer is spent thinking about the best ways to visualize data. Bar vs line vs pie: I have to think about ways to help our users better understand the story behind the data.

Our eyes and brains are better at recognizing and remembering colors and shapes as opposed to reading and retaining words. There is less cognitive load on our memory when we process images as opposed to words.

Think about it: what would you rather do? Read 10,000 data points or see them plotted on a chart? The latter, of course! Your brain probably rebelled just as the thought of reading rows and rows of data.

Of all charting elements out there, the “pie” seems to be getting a bad rap recently.

Pie charts are easy to create, look nice and need very little instruction to help understand. Unfortunately, they also convey very little information unless you need to make part-to-whole comparisons like in the picture above.

This and only this situation calls for the use of a pie chart.

For everything else, turn to a bar chart.