The Fibonacci Method of Dealing with Difficult Clients

Fibonacci Spiral

I love a good Fibonacci sequence, especially one with humor. And a friend (thanks, Rob) recently shared a priceless pricelist that did just that.

We’ve all dealt with those folks who want to be much more involved in the process than is good for them or you. These are typically the ones who want you to bling out every design within an inch of it’s life. They’ll want 3D rotation, shadows, reflections, soft glows, and any other number of effects in an effort to make their visualizations more exciting; obfuscation of the information be damned.

This graphic designer’s pricelist posted on Reddit reflects the frustration of dealing with this type of client by using the Fibonacci sequence to exponentially increase prices based on the level of client interference.

Graphic Designer's Pricelist

While I certainly understood and enjoyed the humor, I thought “If you’re going to use a Fibonacci sequence, it should be in a spiral” and I set out to do just that.

Since I’d never created a spiral (or rose or fan) chart before, I shopped the web and found this fantastic tutorial by Andy Pope. I’ll admit it took me more than a few moments to understand it, but once I did I realized my challenge would be determining what values to use for the percentage of the radius (the length from the center point to the outer edge of the circle) for each slice. Using the standard percentage as you would for pie chart slices yielded a chart so small as to be useless. I decided I wanted the highest value to be 100% so all I had to do was divide all the values by 3400. This is the spiral chart I created using these values. The ratio is accurate for both the angle of the slices as well as the length of the radius.

Visualizationist Rates 1

And there’s nothing wrong with this chart, but it’s not as attractive a spiral as I’d hoped for and the slices for the first three values are all but invisible. I decided extreme accuracy of the radius length wasn’t as important to me as long as the slice angles were accurate and the radius length still reflected the exponential increase of the values. To that end I went back to my spreadsheet and used the standard percentages plus a weighted value of  .61 (making the highest value 100%). Now the first 61% of the radius length for each slice is equidistant and the last 40% reflects the ratio. Basically I exploded the spiral by 61%. This gave me a more pleasing spiral that still manages to impart the information effectively, though technically less accurate.

Visualizationist Rates 2

I copied the charts into PowerPoint and I admit at this point I got a little lazy. I used a standard PowerPoint theme which I modified slightly rather than design my own. But I think the graphics nicely balances and reflects the curve of the spiral. I also used green to impart the financial aspect. I know it’s cliché, but hey, it works. I briefly considered using leader lines but they would have cluttered up the chart unnecessarily. The data labels were just too difficult to do in Excel so I added them with textboxes in PowerPoint and spaced them appropriately. You’ll notice I also “upscaled” some of the terms.

You can download my version of Andy Pope’s spreadsheet from my OneDrive.