Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

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

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

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