Redesigning a bar chart using Edward Tufte’s principles

Data Visualization is challenging and rewarding. One of my favorite projects was designing an Email Analytics dashboard. Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitive Information was super helpful.

Two weeks ago I created bar chart to visualize the number of times Jesus quoted from the Old Testament. I used a tool that produces noisy bar charts. As a challenge, I used Tufte’s principles to redesign it.


Steps taken to clean up the bar chart

  1. Removed the horizontal axis
  2. Changed grid from gray to white
  3. Moved the grid from the back of the bars to the top
  4. Flattened the chart to give it a modern look (not a Tufte principle)
  5. Moved labels to the bottom – I should have made them smaller

There is room for improvement but I think progress was made. Next week I’ll apply principles by Jacques Bertin to the chart.


Why Christians Should Study the Old Testament

Quora is awesome. You can ask all kinds of stuff and get great answers. I spend a bit of time there, mainly reading. I came across a question that pushed me to answer: Why is the Old Testament included in the Christian Scriptures. It seems that followers of Christ have forgotten their roots. A Christian who does not know the Tanakh (The Old Testament), is like a ship without a rudder. A good example of Christians who did not know the Old Testament can be found in the Corinthian Church. The Church was out of control and abusing grace in the name of spiritual freedom. Just to be clear, the other end of the spectrum is a Church that forgets the Gospel by becoming legalistic – a good example of this can be found in Galatians.  The main reason why a Christian should read, know, and understand the Tanakh is because Jesus is Jewish. He relied heavily on the Tanakh – while he was tempted in the wilderness, and to clarify what was written in it, among other things.

Using data found in, I made a chart showing how many times Jesus referenced the Tanakh in the Synoptic Gospels.  Directly means Jesus quoted directly from the Tanakh while indirectly means He referenced a person or place.


use of the OT by the Lord Jesus


A few observations:

  • Given that the Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience, it makes sense why there is more direct references to the Tanakh.
  • Since Luke was written for a Greek audience and non-Jewish people in general, there is less direct references to the Tanakh.
  • Mark was written for a Roman audience – people of action  and little to no knowledge of the Tanakh – Mark does not reference the Tanakh much.
  • All of the Synoptic Gospels still quote Jesus referencing the Tanakh



Missing the Mark

One of the most important skills of a UX Designer is understanding problems. At my current position, I get to see the work of many UX Designers. The part I enjoy the most is figuring out the problem a design solves. It’s like logic – an argument is only as good as its premises. A design is only good if the designer understands the real problem.

To find the real problem, a UX Designer questions everything. Requirements from Product Managers are questioned. Estimates from engineers are questioned. All opinions are questioned. Hidden premises are surfaced. This  requires soft skills and a thick skin. Doing so allows a designer to truly understand problem. Only then can solution be proposed and not miss the mark.