Fast Food Rankings Makover

By | Data Zen, Makeover | No Comments

I came across this Huff Post article yesterday about how in the near future, only one out of the top five fast food chains is expected to serve hamburgers (McDonald’s), in part because Americans want to eat at higher-quality upscale food chains, like Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks, and Panera. While, I don’t agree with this synopsis, I thought this is perfect opportunity for a Monolyst Makeover. Here’s the data tabulation in it’s original form:




fast-foodHere’s a version of the same information with Monolyst principles applied. Created in Microsoft Word, these changes make the table easier to read and understand without introducing unnecessary complexity or decoration.

  • Tables are placed by side for better comparison between 2013 and 2020.
  • Unnecessary space between the data columns is removed.
  • Dollar signs are placed in the header so they do not make the numbers more difficult to read. This is effective because there are only 3 characters in each number.
  • Title is added (missing). Header for Chain Name is removed (unnecessary).


Using Microsoft Excel, here’s how the data can look in a simple bar chart. The column orders are reversed so that the chart progresses from lowest to highest. The white space above the smaller values tells as much of a story as the blue bars themselves. Every piece of color and text in this chart conveys information.

A thousand no’s for every yes

By | Data Zen | No Comments

On the journey to achieve Data Zen, I can’t help but watch over and over again, Apple’s WWDC video from 2013. This sketch comprehesively resonates with the work that I am doing right now. It takes time. There are a thousand no’s for every yes.

The first thing we ask is, what do we want people to feel?





then we begin to craft our intention.

it takes time. there are a thousand no’s for every yes.

we simplify, we perfect, we start over

until everything we touch enhances each life it touches

only then do we sign our work.

The art of minimalist, refined data visualization.

By | Data Zen | No Comments

Have you ever seen a chart or graphic presentation that made you feel good but you did not know why? Was the information complex and technical, but carefully placed in balance and harmony? Chances are, you were experiencing at data in a refined, minimalist state. This is Data Zen, and unfortunately not a common experience. Data Zen is a gift to you from its designer. It is devoid of irrelevant use of color, ego, and overcomplicated graphic schemes that detract from the pureness of the message. It is accomplished through iteration, with each refinement reducing the number of compromises and superfluous artifacts.

I have been honing in on a refined style for over fifteen years. I’ve painfully experienced hundreds charts and graphs communicated horrendously through bad but well-intentioned formatting, including many of my own. This blog is the Monolyst’s journey towards Data Zen. The world of data visualization can be a better place. Please check back often for new content, tutorials, resources and features.