Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

Friday, April 22, 2016

Women are Underrepresented in State Legislatures

Source: Behance
Authors: 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

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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

History of the U.S. Debt Ceiling

Source: Visual Capitalist
Author: Jeff Desjardins

Click on the image for the full size version.

Best Practices:
  • Really good title and subtitle that tell me what the chart is about
  • Excellent use of colour association: Republicans = red; Democrats = blue
  • Great annotations/reference lines for the changes in Presidents
  • Colour-coding the President names by their party
  • Light reference lines do their job perfectly
  • Good choice of a bar chart instead of a line as the space fills to have more impact
  • Good legend placement (it’s noticeable, positioned well, yet out of the way)
  • Including the dots for which party controls each section of Congress add a lot of context
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Why is the $19.6T proposal in red? To me that implied there will be a Republican President in 2016.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The History of the NFL

Source: Sir Viz-a-Lot
Author: Matt Chambers

Click on the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:
  • Perfect use of fonts to match those used by the NFL
  • Excellent colour choices; for each team Matt used the official colours for that team
  • Using gold to highlight the NFL champions makes them stand out better
  • Organizationally, this is perfect. This is exactly how the NFL organizes their teams and in this order.
  • Not including an axis was an excellent choice because it focuses the reader on the patterns and not the specifics
  • The design makes the patterns pop out. For example:
    • The Patriots domination since 2001
    • The Steelers and Raiders in the 70s
    • The consistent ineptitude of the Lions, Buccaneers and Cardinals
  • Excellent tricks in the tooltips to make them look like unit charts
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Update the tooltips with bar charts when they become availalbe in Tableau
  • Use ASCII squares instead of vertical lines in the tooltips
  • Change the tooltip font to match the dashboard font, i.e., consistency with font choices

Saturday, October 3, 2015

America's Unique Gun Violence Problem

Source: VOX
Author: German Lopez

How long must these acts continue before something is really done about the problem? Why is America so apathetic towards the problem? When I chat with people in the UK about guns in the US, they are absolutely stunned and terrified. It's unfathomable to people outside the US why nothing is done. I tell them the answers are simple:
  1. Significant, meaningful gun control
  2. Elimination of lobbying
  3. Terms limits in Congress
But lobbyists run the government. Lobbies are the ONLY way to get elected. So there's that.
Three charts today, but I’m too depressed about the situation to critique them. They speak for themselves. And I’m angry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Blocked Beds in Scotland

Source: BBC
Author: Marc Ellison and Sophie Sparkes

Click on the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:

  • Dark background works well
  • Nice use of red to emphasise that it’s a negative problem
  • Overall nice design & placement of the dashboard elements
  • Emphasising the word blocked in the title helps tell the story
  • Nice summary on the upper right
  • I like how there’s no labeling on the line chart; matching over the to map is easy enough that they aren’t needed
  • Really nice heat map 
  • Good, consistent use of colours and fonts

Recommended Enhancements:

  • The filter action from the line chart to the map would be better as a highlight action.
  • When I click on a dot on the map, the line colour changes. Why?
  • When I deselect a dot on the map, the heatmap on the bottom does not reset. The instructions say to hit esc, but doesn’t work. The action filter should be fixed instead.
  • What’s the call to action? 
  • A bit more context would be helpful. Is this normal in the UK or is Scotland an outlier? The story implies that Scotland has a problem, but does it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Battling Infectious Diseases in the 20th Century: The Impact of Vaccines

Source: Wall Street Journal
Author: Tynan DeBold and Dov Friedman

Click on the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:

  • Excellent storytelling without using many words at all
  • Makes an extremely compelling cases FOR vaccines
  • Including the reference line for when the vaccine was introduced makes the story pop
  • Nice placement of the legend
  • I like how the legend includes an indicator as I hover over a block
  • Clear axis labels for the timeline

Recommended Enhancements:

  • I’m not totally sold on the colour scale; I’d prefer a two colour scale
  • Making the graphics taller would allow all State legends to be seen
  • Provide links to the source data

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jackie Robinson vs. Every Player Before Him

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Ryan Sleeper

Click on the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:

  • Visually very appealing
  • Including the baseball player sliding is a nice touch to enhance to aesthetics
  • Good title and subtitle that clearly tell me what I’m looking at
  • Simple design of lots of data
  • Nice use of tooltips
  • I like how only Jackie Robinson is highlighted amongst all of the players
  • Minimal use of colour
  • Clear axis labels
  • Nice use of divider lines to separate the header and footer
  • Good placement of the filter, which invites me to interact

Recommended Enhancements:

  • It isn’t clear why the 95th percentile is shown. Why not the 50th percentile? Why not the 75th?
  • Why are multiple fonts used? I prefer a single font if possible.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Gender Pay Gap

Source: Information is Beautiful
Author: Philippa Thomas

NOTE: This is very similar to a piece I did back in August with the same data that was more or less the same visualisation.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Best Practices:
  • Nice grouping of the data by job sector
  • Great use of two axes that are synchronized yet are different metrics (hourly wage vs. salary)
  • Nice font choices
  • A DNA chart is a great choice for showing the differences
  • Nice used of a dashed line to break up the job sectors
  • Clean design that’s simply to read
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Include an overall for each job sector
  • Use a different for men; the colour used is tough to read
  • Line thickness connecting the dots should be consistent
  • Make it interactive so that I can filter to the sectors I’m interested in, filter the salary range, and hover over dots to see the actual value
  • Including links in the visualisation that you can’t actually click on makes no sense
  • Include links to the researcher and designer; I might be interested in more of their content
  • There’s no logic to the sorting
  • Highlight the roles where women are paid more than men; this will help emphasize the story

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Steady Trend on Gay Marriage Views

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Nate Silver

Best Practices:
  • Great titles and labelling
  • Gridlines aid in quantifying each point
  • Labelling the lines for opposing/supporting is a nice way to not need a colour legend
  • Simple scatter plot tells a great story of the change in views without an commentary needed
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Using red/blue for opposing/supporting can imply a connotation to Republican/Democrat, which may not be the case. An orange/blue colour palette would have been a better choice, for example.
  • It’s not clear what the line through the dots represents. It looks like it’s a bit hand-drawn, which leads me to believe it’s generally a best fit for the points on that date. Either way, it’s not a trend line, so it shouldn’t be included.
  • I don’t like the gray background they choose to use for their charts. I find it distracting and it’s makes it hard for me to see the dots.
  • A connected scatter plot might be an interesting view.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Greater Atlanta Graduation Rates

Source: PBA 30
Authors: Charles Jones

Click the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:

  • Good choice of colour scheme; it makes the really bad school district stand out
  • Good visual layering
  • Nice table included when you hover or click on a school district
  • Nice map choice because everything outside of the Atlanta area is washed out
  • The white borders around each school district help them pop
  • Clear instructions provided
  • Nice summary text throughout to help tell the story and provide context
  • Clearly shows the poor areas of Atlanta (hint: these are the areas with the worst test scores)

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Increase the font on the tooltips to make them easier to read
  • Use no more than two fonts, preferrably one
  • Allow the dashboard to be downloaded; I feel like people are hiding something when they don’t make the data and/or dashboard available for download

Friday, August 21, 2015

Woodstock: Visualising the “Three Days that Rocked the World”

Source: Tableau Public
Authors: Nicco Cirone

Disclaimer: Nicco is a student of mine at the Data School and this is his #IronViz entry which you can vote for here.

Click the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices

  • Overall beautiful design
  • Great trick using the shapes to trigger actions to other sheets
  • Excellent incorporation of instructions throughout
  • On the jukebox view, I really like what he did with the timeline and artist images
  • Embedding the songs is pretty slick!
  • The artist earnings view is simple, yet quite beautiful. Incorporating the images really makes a big difference.

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Some of the text is really small, making it hard for my old eyes to read

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Is England a Nation on Anti-depressants?

Source: Data School
Authors: Nicco Cirone

Disclaimer: Nicco is a student of mine at the Data School.

Click the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices

  • Excellent story telling; the design guides me around the viz in a logical order
  • Good use of labeling on the line chart; nice touch to include the % change
  • Nice use of a parameter on the map
  • The gray background makes the charts more prominent.

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Change the font size so that the title of the map fits on one line
  • Include action filters on the map so that I can click on a CCG and see the other charts update
  • Colour scale is missing
  • Remove the gridlines and axis from the line chart; they aren’t needed since he included the labels. This would clean up the viz a bit.
  • Use a single font in the entire viz

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bruce Springsteen: His Albums, Live Shows and Song Moods

Source: Tableau Public
Authors: Pablo Saenz de Tejada

Best Practices:

  • Excellent use of story points
  • The black & white theme captures the tone of Bruce perfectly
  • Great use of images
  • Good use of actions to display more information
  • Good instructions throughout
  • Good font choices
  • Good, consistent use of the red/blue color palette
  • Nice use of annotations
  • Good use of a calendar
  • Great line chart for concerts per year

Recommended Enhancements:

  • A few typos need to be fixed (Spanish is Pablo’s first language)
  • Add a viz on the opening screen
  • Change the concerts per country bar chart to a horizontal bar chart to make the countries easier to read
  • Make the # of songs controller on the last viz a type in; it doesn’t fit the view now

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Lifespan of an Evening News Anchor

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Authors: Harry Enten

Click on the image for a larger version.

Best Practices:

  • Nice grouping by network
  • Great use of a DNA chart to show the time span
  • Good use of colour to separate the networks
  • Only including the years at the top and including gridlines effectively reduces the viz to only what is necessary
  • The layout nicely shows how ABC has had so many more anchors than CBS and NBC

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Include a number for each person somewhere so that I don’t have to calculate the length of time in my head
  • Include an explanation as to why ABC has had so many anchors
  • I know it’s their style, but I find the gray background distracting. A white background (or no background) would be cleaner.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Visualising the Shelter Problem in the US

Source: Monday Morning Viz
Authors: Steven Carter

Click the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:
  • Nice use of color to show a diverging scale
  • Using the dot on the bar is a nice trick to show comparisons between two measures
  • Using the dots and bars allows for comparing either within a single city or across multiple cities
  • Good use of a help icon to aid in understanding
  • Nice titles that explain each viz
  • Nice use of tooltips
  • Simple layout and design
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The shelter rates are unnecessarily precise. Rounding to the whole number would be fine and cleaner.
  • I would either use a bar in bar or a line instead of the blue area chart. I find the area chart distracting.
  • Reduce the saturation of the outline of the dots on the map. When they are black, they tend to block other dots behind them.
  • I don’t understand the purpose of the county-level shading on the map. I would remove it since the story is more about the dots on the map.
  • Add the option to sort by either metric on the bar/dot plot chart
  • Remove the axis title on the trend chart since it only applies to one metric. Otherwise it should be changed to indicate that it’s scaled to both metrics.
  • I’d like to see a view that shows the % difference between the two metrics by year to see if shelter rates are improving.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Who has the Best Pitching Staff? ERA vs. FIP in MLB

Source: Viz of the Day
Authors: Owen Watson

Click the image for the interactive version.

Best Practices:
  • This is one of the most interesting ways I’ve seen to compare two metrics. It makes the magnitude of the variances very obvious.
  • Easy to compare across teams or stats within a single team
  • Nice use of colour
  • Good example of when to NOT start an axis at zero
  • Proper number formatting for these stats
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Too many gridlines breaking up the viz
  • Could use a better title so that it can stand better on its own
  • Team names don’t need to be bold (personal preference)
  • I’d like to be able to sort by either stat; this only allows sorting by ERA
  • Somehow call out the teams that have a higher ERA than FIP since that is significant
  • Include a defintion for the stats so that people not familiar with baseball can understand it easier
  • Make the viz slightly taller so that all teams fit in a single view

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