The story of a simple chart that became a dataviz test case

Once upon a time we created a simple chart on the changes in the color of the cars on the road. After a lonely period it grew a family of other likewise charts based on the same data. And everybody lived happily ever after.

donderdag 12 april 2018 | color, Vizualisation

Sometimes things get their own life. This is the story about a chart we created some years ago that inspired others to experiment a bit more and now seems to be a test case for new dataviz tools.

It started way back in 2013 on a Dutch weblog. In the Netherlands the car registration data became open data. This allowed us to show that the Dutch roads became less colorful. The chart was updated and refined over the years. It was popular in the Netherlands.

But the question was raised if the Dutch situation was mirrored in other countries. So we started looking for data. Without access to simular databases, we found that Dupont and later Axalta each year published a report on color distribution of new cars sold all over the world based on the paint they sold.

This allowed us to create a version for North America. We recently updated it to include 2017 (see graph at the top).

Via the version we created on Tableau it was picked up by Matt Chambers as part of a makeover Monday. He was more interested in the rank instead of the distribution. So he created a bump chart in Tableau. It became very popular.


Then Rody Zakovich found a way to improve it even further. He first created a more curvy version. Later he came up with a combination of rank and area in one chart.


This again inspired Ken Flerlage to some other variations on bump charts. And during the makeover Monday period Michael Mixon used the original Dutch data again to create yet another version.

Elsewhere the people from Data Revelations took a different approach after seeing Matt's bump chart. They also figured out a way to show the relative weight and rank in one chart.


And now it's used as an example to show the capabilities of a new dataviz tool called Data Ilustrator.

Makes us wonder where else the data are used. And we like to keep the creativity flowing by making the updated dataset available to all to use.

Update 13 February 2020:

The last couple of months we've found some more examples. It's not always certain they were derived from other examples. But the have a simular look/feel, so we include them here.

  • The Dutch statistics bureau tweeted an example based on car sales.
  • Frederik Ruys from Vizualism created a beautiful version for the Dutch newspaper FD.

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