Which of the following is easier to understand the volume?

I'm looking for a congitive research which supports my assumptions that aggregation. Update - Assume we are talking on the number of hours and each bar represents a shift in a day. Red means more than 100% required hours per day, Grey means about 80% of hours per day, Etc.... White means no shift on that day.

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is easier than dispersed

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    For me there is not enough information to create a useful answer. I do not understand, what the different symbols and colours represent at all. What do the red blocks mean? Why do the red blocks in the second picture have a blue border? Does "darker grey" mean more orders than "lighter grey"? How are the orders aggregated in the first picture (since it has no explaining text)? Could you elaborate a bit more about the context what is happening?
    – hamena314
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


In effect, you're asking if a stacked horizontal bar chart (1st), where you've sorted the days of each individual week by shift %, is easier to read totals (volume) from than a fairly coarse scatterplot / matrix (2nd)?

The immediate answer is yes as that is what bar charts, stacked or unstacked, are designed to do - use one property - length - to show quantity rather than have the user add up individual elements and store the intermediate results in their head for comparison.

I don't know of any experiments that have compared the two directly, but I do know that matrix representations of networks often allow themselves to be sorted by the properties of individual rows/columns to make that particular subset of data (and it's relationship to other rows/columns - which isn't the case in yours as all rows are sorted) easier to see.

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