Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

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.

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