The Big Mac index (again)

This was originally posted on my first blog, Data vs Food, in July 2018

During June I took a month long sabbatical from Makeover Monday due to other commitments, so it’s been great getting back into the swing of things. Working with new and interesting datasets each week is a load of fun!

This week’s dataset kindly provided by Eva and Andy is The Economist’s Big Mac index

(I thought I’d never have to see this data again!)


This is the visualisation that we’re making over this week


What do I like?

  • Clear colour scheme

  • It’s very clear which countries have over/undervalued Big Macs

  • The +/- in the axis

What could improve?

  • It only shows the latest two prices for each country

  • I’m not keen on the price increase shown using increasing circle size

  • The lack of a dollar sign before the price (I realise it’s at the top of the viz, but I personally feel prices should have their currency symbol with them)

  • I’m not a fan of including the Euro Area


Here’s my viz.

Click for the interactive version

Instead of showing which countries are over or undervalued I decided to look at how the price of a Big Mac has varied over the last 19 years.
Like my visualisation for IronViz I decided to pay homage to the Economist’s colour scheme and layout. There are some very specific design choices in the original that I tried to emulate as closely as possible.

  1. Using the colour picker in Tableau I matched the exact colour values in all parts of the viz, the background is where this is most obvious. Though I did change the bright blue in the arrows to make it stand out a bit more on the darker bars.

  2. The word “index” in the title has a lower case i.

  3. Left align the y-axis text.

  4. The legend is placed directly above the chart and objects are indicated with colour and shape.

  5. The Economist red rectangle starts in the top left and stops in line with the bottom of the title.

  6. A borders on the left and right of the chart approximately twice the width of the red rectangle.

  7. The vertical gridlines are a few pixels thick.

  8. Very clean x-axis – no axis ruler, borders, or decimal places.

The overall design was inspired by András Szesztai‘s viz on NBA Team Spending, it’s well worth checking out!

I did add in a viz in tooltip to give a bit more context to the data, so you could see which countries were sampled each year, and where their price was relative to each other.

Food Section – Lettuce

It’s still warm so it’s still BBQ weather. It was raining last weekend and I still got mine out, though I was thankful it has a lid.

If you want something tasty and green to go with pulled pork/burgers/ribs/whatever – get some little gem lettuces and grill them.

What to do?

  • Chop them in half, length ways (leave the root attached)

  • Drizzle with olive oil

  • Season with salt and pepper

 and then?

  • Get your BBQ nice and hot or if you’re indoors use a griddle pan

  • Place them cut side down for about 5 minutes until they’re nice and charred

  • Turn them over and grill for another few minutes

Serve and enjoy a slightly meatier tasting lettuce with a great texture!