Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Extreme Variance in U.S. Population Distribution

Source: dadaviz
Author: dadaviz


Best Practices:

  • Terrific storytelling; I love how the story gets more and more extreme as you scroll through the maps
  • Simple use of colors that work well together, yet contrast each other
  • Using the text in the header to act as a color legend
  • Adding numbers for context and for comparison
  • Gives a great overview for just how people live in just a few counties, especially the last map that compares Los Angeles County to entire States
  • Minimalist maps put the focus on the data
  • Leaving the titles off; they aren’t needed

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Cite the data source


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The State of U.S. Jobs: 1976-2016

Source: The Daily Viz
Author: Matt Stiles


Best Practices:

  • Great example of small multiple line charts
  • Neatly organized
  • Alphabetical sort makes it easy to find a State
  • Comparing to the national unemployment rate provides much better context for each State
  • Shading each chart a light red to indicate a problem
  • Dots on the end that are labeled
  • Nice annotation on the first chart that helps explain how to read all of the charts
  • Only including the y-axis on the first chart in each row
  • Light gridlines help frame each chart
  • Consistent scales across all charts
  • Labelling the x-axis by decade
  • Clear note, credits and source at the end

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Include a + next to the positive values both on the axis and on the label
  • Color the dot on the end red for positive or negative) for additional context

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Europeans Greatly Overestimate Muslim Population

Source: The Guardian
Author: Pamela Duncan


Best Practices:

  • Clear title that tells the story of the chart
  • Good legend placement so you know what the colors mean before you read the chart
  • Alphabetical sort makes it easy to look up a country
  • Making the focus color orange allows it stand out from the others and drive home the message
  • Color is only used where necessary
  • Light grey bars in the background help the Gantt bars stand out

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Include the difference between perception and reality next to each country name for more context
  • Only including “selected countries” might be misleading; Did they cherry pick these countries to fit the story?
  • Allow sort options for Reality, Perception and Difference

Friday, December 16, 2016

Urban and Rural America Are Becoming Increasingly Polarized

Source: Washington Post
Author: Lazaro Gamio


Best Practices:

  • Incredible story telling
  • Great labelling
  • Vertical timeline works really well because it shows the sway better than horizontal would
  • Great annotations
  • Great example for showing massive amounts of data in a small space
  • Excellent analytical work (scroll down in the article for even more)
  • Nice minimal use of color

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Include the -20% D line on the first chart for consistency
  • Change the -20% D to +20% R; it was tough for me to wrap my head around this for some reason. I think making it more clear that it was a move to Republican would be make it more intuitive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

How Many Times Teams Have Been to the World Series

Source: Business Insider
AuthorSkye Gould


Best Practices:

  • Nice unit chart display
  • Including the numbers next to the dots aids understanding
  • Red/green work well since they can be looked at separately
  • Nice headers
  • Good footnotes for sources and additional information
  • Overall a very clean visualisation
  • Nice spacing


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • Could use a more engaging title
  • Title feel squished; it needs some breathing room
  • Add an option to sort the chart by appearances, wins or losses
  • Highlighting the Cubs and Indians makes sense in context of the rest of the story, but if all you saw was the chart, you wouldn’t know why they are highlighted
  • Sort order of the chart doesn’t match the title of the article

Monday, November 28, 2016

London Tube Heartbeat

Source: TubeHeartbeat.com
Author: HERE


Best Practices:
  • Great use of tube map colours
  • Very engaging
  • Nice filtering and customisation options
  • Nice legends
  • Good summary stats
  • Nice interaction when you click on a station
  • Tells a nice story when you watch the annotation

Recommended Enhancements
:
  • Would like annotations when I click on a station or line
  • Include option to include/exclude any combination of lines
  • A “map your route” option would be interesting

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Supreme Court Tenure by Justice

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Adam McCann

Best Practices:

  • Engaging
  • Beautiful design
  • Excellent interactivity that displays the name/summary of each Justice
  • Great use of colour
  • Simple filtering
  • Nice summary at the top
  • Clear explanations; this is very handy for a non-typical visualisation type
  • Nice scale labelling
  • Wide/short layout works well
  • Black background makes the data pop


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • None

Decrypting ABV and IBU: Choose your favourite beer!

Source: The Viz Connoisseur
Author: Simona Loffredo

Best Practices:

  • Overall excellent design
  • Lovely title that clearly tells me what it’s about
  • Including the definitions of ABV and IBU was a good idea for those that don’t know about them
  • Great idea to include the food recommendations for each quadrant
  • Nice filtering for the scatterplot
  • Good tooltips
  • Good colour and font choices


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • Have the filters in the top chart also updated the bottom chart
  • Make a mobile version so it can be used like an app at a pub

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mapping the Spread of Obesity

Source: Flowing Data
Author: Nathan Yau


Best Practices:

  • Great example of small multiples
  • Excellent interactivity
  • Great legend to show which states are where in the tiled map
  • Good use of color; the green and purple contrast well
  • Shows regional trends really well
  • Clearly shows how the entire United States is now overweight on average


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • Doesn’t fit in a single screen (at least no on my MacBook Pro), making it more difficult than necessary to see all maps at once
  • The color legend implies that overweight starts at 20%, when by the CDC’s definition 25% body mass index is the start of the overweight range

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Olympic Sports That Have Come and Gone

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Allison McCann


Best Practices:

  • Very well organised
  • Easy to understand
  • Good use of color; they’re synonymous with the Olympics
  • Nice labelling
  • Good use of annotations


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • The design highlights the sports that have gone away. It might make more sense to switch these around so that these sports fade away with a light grey.
  • It’s too hard to see the reinstated sports. Maybe include another color for these.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ichiro: All 3000 MLB Hits

Source: Twitter
Author: MLB Stat of the Day

Best Practices
:
  • Nice use of images
  • Good use of color to distinguish the types of hits
  • Using a spray chart clearly shows how Ichiro could hit the ball to any part of the park
  • Using a dot for each hit and a different color for each hit type shows all of his power was to rightfield
  • A baseball field as a background helps add context (some problem though)
  • Including the distance markers to aid in understanding

Recommended Enhancements
:
  • How many yellow dots are behind those purple dots? We can’t tell because there’s no transparency.
  • While using a baseball field as a background is cute, no two fields are the same. So, this image shows doubles beyond the field and home runs inside the park.
  • The field is on a weird angle. It would be better if home plate was in the 6 o’clock position.
  • His 3000th hit is really hard to find. If the author wants to highlight it, then they should make it more prominent.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The “Aisle" U.S. Senators Work Across Has Grown Into a Canyon

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Hamid Hajebian


Best Practices:

  • Eye-catching design
  • Appropriate use of color for each political party
  • Design makes the purpose of the chart obvious
  • Good idea to include the lines across to accentuate the gap
  • Really like the use of the line width for the % of bills passed; clearly show how the parties don’t work together
  • Coloring the lines by the Senate majority strength shows the shift between parties in power nicely
  • Nice organization from oldest to most recent
  • Coloring the Presidents by their party is a nice touch and aids in understanding
  • Even though the lines are vertical, you can still see how much more conservative the Republican party has become
  • Center line provides balance
  • Excellent title that drives the point home
  • Good idea to include the Info button for more detail
  • Works well as a static viz and an interactive viz
  • Great tooltips


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • The scatter plot doesn’t add much value and feels like it was added because there was space on the side. 
  • If the scatter plot is removed, then the callouts for the meaning of the lines could be moved into that space so that the reader understands what they mean sooner.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Human Development Index

Source: Russell Spangler
Author: Russell Spangler


Best Practices
:

  • Small multiples layout
  • Alphabetical sort makes it easy to find a country
  • Big number for the year with a nice control under it
  • Good use of icons for more information
  • Excellent explanations
  • Historical view on the upper right gives great context
  • Using the historical view as the color legend makes it easy to follow the color throughout
  • Nice color choices
  • Great use of reference lines in the bar chart for context
  • Love the inclusion of the actual numbers and the overall index for each country
  • Including the icons for any indices that changed is a great touch
  • Making a very complex data set look simple takes a LOT of skill

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Would a line chart make the trends easier to understand for the country view on the upper right?
  • Add a bit more spacing between the rows so the countries are separated vertically a bit more (very nitpicky)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

National Autism Indicators Report

Source: Evergreen Data
Author: Stephanie Evergreen


Best Practices
:

  • Simple color usage
  • Excellent layout
  • Perfect use case for slope graphs
  • Headline gives a great summary
  • Consistent scaling
  • Great labelling everywhere
  • Including the axis ticks only on the left side nicely reduces clutter
  • Nice inclusion of the actual numbers

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Needs a title
  • Should the charts be sorted somehow? I don’t see any logic to the sorting. I would have chosen to sort by one the metrics.

London Marathon: How Many Runners Achieve the Dream of a Negative Split?

Source: Financial Times
Author: John Burn-Murdoch

Best Practices:

  • Great use of color
  • Consistent design for each year and gender
  • Great axis labelling and descriptions
  • First chart has more descriptions than the others to make it easier to understand the entire viz
  • Well organised from newest to oldest
  • Layout makes the viz easy to consume
  • Comparisons are easy
  • Viz does a great job of answering the question in the title
  • Great use of reference lines
  • Fading out the runners that aren’t part of the story

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Subtitle is really long
  • Make the scales the same size, i.e., have the same number of hours on each axis, so that the 45 degree line is the same time for the first and second halves of the race

Friday, April 22, 2016

Women are Underrepresented in State Legislatures

Source: Behance
Author: Sonja Kuijpers


Best Practices
:

  • Great use of a trellis layout
  • Great use of color
  • Outstanding legend and directions
  • Nice summary at the top
  • Nice method for calling out the best and the worst states
  • Great labelling
  • The shading between the lines aid in understanding the gap
  • Good example of using a slope graph to compare two measures AND two dimensions
  • Very crisp looking
  • Clean design
  • Impactful

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Maybe make it a bit more compact by reducing the space between the states

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Historical US Presidential Elections

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Jacob Olsufka

Click the image for the interactive version


Best Practices:

  • Perfect use of color to represent the different political parties
  • Consistent use of colors
  • Option to choose different map types
  • Beautiful hex map 
  • Great use of images for the candidates; the subtle color borders are a nice touch
  • Nice stacked bar chart of the electorate by state
  • Good idea to include the reference lines on the bar charts
  • Good idea to make the bar charts diverging from the center
  • Nice selector for the election year
  • Nice labeling on the bar charts
  • Including the detail description between the candidates really adds to the story
  • Good placement of the color legend
  • Including the check mark for the winner


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • The shift from the previous election doesn’t work well for me. I think it’s a combination of using an arrow and the fading colors. A simple Gannt bar might work better.
  • What does the line in the middle of the previous election section mean?
  • Remove the line that cuts through all of the circles at the top
  • Change the circle selectors at the top to a heatmap style (filled rectangles)
  • It’s hard to tell what the map is colored by. Is it colored by the % of electoral votes or the % of the popular vote?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Causes of Gun Violence

Source: Facebook
Author: GOOD

The Causes of Gun Violence Identified

What is the leading cause of mass gun violence?

Posted by GOOD on Monday, February 22, 2016


Best Practices:

  • Amazing example of storytelling
  • Great use of color, video and motion
  • Excellent use of annotations
  • Leads to more conversation


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • Provide a link to the data
  • Include an interactive version so that you could get more information about the crimes

Friday, March 18, 2016

From Millions to Billions

Source: Fleximize
Author: Not listed

Click on the image for the full size version. It’s a really nice interactive version.


Best Practices:

  • Title catches your attention
  • Subtitle makes you more interested and sets up the story
  • Very well organized
  • Clear labeling of the headers
  • Pictures of the faces make it feel more real
  • Consistent use of colors makes it easy to understand and follow
  • Nice totals on the right for context and they’re out of the way as to not distract
  • Dark background works well and makes the bars pop out
  • Great tooltips!
  • Fantastic sorting interactivity
  • Great spacing; there’s a lot of information yet it still feels simple


Recommended Enhancements
:

  • Include a filter for gender
  • Include more women

Monday, March 14, 2016

Highway of Tears: Mapping our Stolen Sisters

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Nai Louza

Disclaimer: Nai is a student of mine at the Data School. This work was done entirely on her own with no guidance from me.

Click on the image for the full size version.

Best Practices:

  • Great storytelling
  • Perfect layout
  • Really good title and subtitle
  • Including the images of the women and girls brings emotion to the viz
  • Including the line for the highway helps focus the problem and adds context
  • Monotone color choice works well with the somber message
  • Good use of color to identify murdered vs. missing
  • Excellent tooltips

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Maybe make the map bigger
  • Change the hover actions to click actions so that it works on a mobile device

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Oscars Diversity Problem

SourceTime
AuthorEliza Berman & David Johnson

Click on the image for the full size version.

Best Practices:
  • Using intensity of color to make the data and story stand out
  • Good choice of colors
  • Including an option to highlight the winners with the dark borders
  • Very clear story
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The overall picture would be easier to see if it was all in one view. I would fix this by swapping the axes.
  • Change the order of the years; I'd like to see it in chronological order.
  • Add an option to filter the years, i.e., I might want to focus on only the last 10 years.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

1,052 Mass Shootings in 1,066 Days: This Is What America's Gun Crisis Looks Like

SourceThe Guardian
AuthorGuardian US Interactive Team

Click on the image for the full size version.


Best Practices:
  • Incredible storytelling with very few words
  • Great summary at the top along with a simple legend
  • Great use of colour; I like the red to represent death and yellow for injured.
  • Even more impactful on mobile
  • Using the people icons for the unit charts makes it feel very personal
  • Great layout; clean and easy to understand
  • Great example of an visualisation that works better because it's not on one page
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Need information on hover for each person
  • Possibly use male and female icons, but that might take away from the simplicity
  • Grouping the icons by 5s would make the larger shootings easier to count more quickly

Monday, November 23, 2015

Jeb Bush’s Problem Is Jeb Bush

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Harry Enten

Click on the image for the full size version.


Best Practices
:

  • Using small multiples is great idea because we can see each candidate separately yet still compare them to the others
  • Sorting candidates by the latest score
  • Documenting the source
  • Using a + to emphasise positive ratings
  • Nice title and subtitle
  • Graying out candidates that were not in the latest debate
  • Only including the date scale at the bottom; this helps reduce clutter
  • Using a consistent scale across all charts

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Remove the gray background; it makes the text harder to read
  • Make the data available
  • Make the subtitle smaller

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

U.S. Refugees Arrested on Domestic Terrorism Charges Since 9/11

Source: Fusion
Author: Kevin Roose

Click on the image for the full size version.

Best Practices:

  • Incredibly accurate
  • Tells a compelling story

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Rotate the year labels to be horizontal
  • Add the axis line for the y-axis
  • Add axis labels

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chelsea’s Historically Awful Start

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: James Curley

Click on the image for the full size version.


Best Practices
:

  • Excellent use of highlighting only Chelsea yet keeping the rest of the teams in context
  • Clean, simple chart
  • Colouring the line blue to match Chelsea’s official colour

Recommended Enhancements:

  • A more descriptive subtitle would be better that indicates more what the story is about. Something like this would make for a better subtitle: "Chelsea is averaging less than one point per game. This is the team’s worst start since 1978 — a season after which they were relegated.”
  • I know it’s their style, but I really don’t like the gray background on the chart.
  • I wish this were interactive so that I could hover over a line and see which team it is.

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