Pie charts vs. donut charts

I went to the Social Innovation Forum Investor meeting Friday night at which eight social entrepreneurs made their pitches. I had the privilege of helping Budget Buddies, which is lead by a very experienced former marketing communications pro, Anita Saville, so they needed a minimum of my help. Anita did a great job on her presentation, even though she had to go first, which is always the hardest position.

In the process of reviewing most of these presentations before their public showing I got introduced to the donut chart. I had to admit I hadn’t seen it before.

But I have some problems with it, and with the way it was used by one of the presenters.

First of all, perceptually the white space in the center of the donut is what catches your eye. But there’s no information there. Secondly, there is far less space to place text on the graphic. And finally, for some reason in one presentation the presenter did not pull out the part of the “ring” he was speaking about, the way presenters pull out the wedge of the pie that they are addressing.

So yes, donut charts look “cooler” than old-fashioned pie charts, but looking cool and successfully communicating information are too different things. First, you need to capture the viewers’ attention, they have a problem there; and second text needs to be large and legible; tougher to do in the limited space.

So donut charts may have their place, but the old-fashioned pie chart is superior, at least to me.







Author: Mentorphile

Mentor, coach, and advisor to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. General manager with significant experience in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Focus on media and information. On founding team of four venture-backed companies. Currently Chairman of Popsleuth, Inc., maker of the Endorfyn app for keeping fans updated on new stuff from their favorite artists.

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