Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ohio State Recruits

Source: High School Sports Stuff
Author: Ohio Varsity


Best Practices:
  • I love hand drawn visualizations!
  • Clear labeling
  • The message/intent of the chart is obvious
  • Started the bar chart axis at zero
  • Proper scaling on the chart
Recommended Enhancements:
  • More descriptive title

Arizona Has a Lot of Uninsured Kids

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Anna Maria Barry-Jester


Best Practices:
  • Arizona is highlighted in the article and clearly highlighted in the table
  • United States average splits the top 5 and bottom 5, creating nice spacing
  • Axis length is consistent
  • Sources are clear, yet out of the way
  • Consistent with the FiveThirtyEight style
  • The % symbol is only on the first label; it's not necessary to repeat it everywhere
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Fix capitalization of the title

Friday, January 23, 2015

Top 100 Articles for Deletion Discussions on Wikipedia

Source: Tableau Zen
Author: Mark Jackson

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.


Best Practices:
  • Technically, this is outstanding! 
  • Great explanations throughout, which makes it easy to understand
  • Nice bar chart pops up when you click on a line
  • Consistent colors
  • Great use of white space
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Fix capitalization of the title
  • Make the initial load and interactions faster
  • Tooltip on the bar chart doesn't make sense

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Nuclear Energy Option

Source: VizCandy
Author: Kelly Martin

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.

Best Practices:
  • Stunning design, this doesn't look like "Tableau"
  • Excellent storytelling
  • Great use of fonts.  How does she know which fonts to use?
  • Everything is so crisp and clean
  • Sections are nicely broken up so that they can be considered independently
  • Nice use of color; not too much, not too little; just right
  • The dark map makes the dots stand out
  • Great line chart inside the dark map! The forecasting shading is great as well as including dots on each year and not including the axis. This allows the line to stand on its own with no distractions.
  • I typically don't like tree maps, but I think it works ok in this case because there aren't too many pieces to it and it fills the space nicely.
  • I like the icons on the second area chart to signify the different energy sources.
  • I'm typically not a fan of stacked area charts, but in this case, I think it works ok because you can still see the huge spike in China's coal usage.  You can also see that energy usage in the USA hasn't changed much.
  • I like the summary metrics above the icons and the area charts.
  • The bar in bar chart works well. I like the lack of color and the sorting.
  • I like how to two maps farther down go together and how Kelly has used text to tie them together.
  • I really like the giant text boxes showing the overall numbers for the key metrics. These break the sections well too.
  • Great tooltips throughout
  • The stacked bars at the bottom are an interesting choice. Kelly chose to color by the metric name instead of by the category. This works because there aren't too many items stacked and she's made the dividers in the bars clear.
  • Adding the "net" below the stacked bars is great because naturally someone is going to want to know that and we don't want them to have to do the math in their head. This also avoids having to create another chart.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Remove the break between the actual and estimate sections in the first area chart
  • I don't understand the point of the bubbles to the right of the two white maps.
  • I'd like Kelly to teach the rest of us how she thinks through design and makes choices about fonts and colors.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mesut Ozil is back!

Source: Facebook
Author: Arsenal

For additional context, see this post from when Arsenal signed Ozil. They need him badly.


Best Practices:
  • Simple design overall
  • Sticking with the team's colors throughout
  • Using text only; charts aren't always needed in data visualization
  • Using the red lines to divide the sections
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Wrap Ozil in cotton so he doesn't get injured again
  • Emphasize how little he has played
  • Show predicted stats if he had stayed healthy
  • All caps is annoying

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Ugly Truth about Meetings

Source: Visually
Author: Diana Gosi


Best Practices:
  • The design does an excellent job of walking you through the story.
  • There a nice breaks between each of the sections.
  • I like how Diana used numbers and highlighted them in red rather than using charts everywhere. Sometimes a simple number is enough.
  • The graphics capture each of the sections in the story well.
  • The story has a clear beginning, middle and end. The end is a great example of providing readers with actions.
  • Nice use of color.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Kill the pie charts in the last section. Diana hasn't used charts until the two pie charts. They almost look like space filler. She could have made the numbers more prominent to fill in that space.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Big Job Gains and Rising Pay in Labor Data

Source: New York Times
Author: Nelson Schwartz



Best Practices:
  • Highlighting the latest data point in both the bar chart and the line chart
  • Minimal labeling
  • Proper aspect ratios on the charts
  • Simple titles
  • Showing the value of the latest data point
  • Noting the source of the data
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Remove the gray background; this would be easier to read with a white background
  • Make the gridlines lighter

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Day in the Life of a NYC Taxi

Source: NYC Taxis - A Day in the Life
Author: Chris Whong

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.


Best Practices:
  • Technically this is outstanding
  • Beautifully designed
  • Dark background map fades away and bring the data (i.e., the trips) to light
  • Using green for the start of the trip and red for the end of the trip (aligns with stop lights)
  • Legend is easy to understand and is out of the way
  • Cumulative bar chart for accumulated fares
  • Summary table on the upper right
  • Using head icons for the passenger count
  • Color is only used where necessary
  • The option to make the clock move faster or slower is a nice touch
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Using green/red for the start/end of the trip won't work for color-blind people, but in this visualization, it makes sense to use them

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Railroads of the Contiguous United States

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Ben Jones

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.


Best Practices:
  • Dark map background makes the rail lines stand out
  • Good color choices for the status of the rail lines
  • Visually appealing
  • Makes a complex network look simple
  • Simple design that doesn't require much instruction
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The placement of the title looks strange. It should be either left or center justified; I would center-justify it in this case.
  • Highlight actions are way too slow, which makes it not nearly as fun to use. It took 18 seconds for Operational to render when clicked; that's unacceptable.

Friday, January 2, 2015

SNAP Back to Reality

Source: Datablick
Author: Anya A'Hearn

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.


Best Practices:
  • Anya is one of the best designers I know and she doesn't disappoint with this design; it's a terrific layout!
  • Great storytelling!
  • Consistent colors throughout (notice how Anya uses the green and gray)
  • Consistent fonts
  • Excellent subtitle that (1) tells the overall story simply and (2) provides clear instructions
  • The summary at the top is fantastic; you can compare your state to the national average to your family. This makes it really hit home!
  • Minimalist style to the line charts
  • Good use of annotations on the line charts
  • Nice summaries above each section
  • The line break separate the summary from the detail; subtle touch that breaks the story into pieces well.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The metrics in the selectors are cut off; either the metrics should be renamed to shorter names or the boxes should be wider.
  • Makes the lines slightly thinner so that it's easier to see them when they are close together
  • A diverging color palette for the map would make it easier to distinguish the top and bottom states. As is, the bottom color is closer to gray, which doesn't mean the same thing as the gray used elsewhere (Metric 2).

Life Expectancy: Progress from 1990 to 2013

Source: Health Intelligence
Author: Ramon Martinez

Click on the image to go to the interactive version.


Best Practices:
  • Nice use of interactive filters
  • Great layout
  • Bikini chart works well as a histogram
  • Consistent use of colors across the various charts
  • Line charts are clear and easy to understand
  • Providing two sections makes comparisons easy; in this example, Global and China are being compared
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Title should have the proper capitalization
  • Move the instructions to the subtitle so they are more obvious
  • Using pink for females and blue for males makes sense in the USA, but not necessarily in all countries; avoid stereotypical colors unless they are universal
  • Use consistent axis scales on the line charts; the labels should be to the same number of decimals
  • Only show the axis labels on the line charts every five years
  • Use a consistent font
  • Fix the typo in the headers for the bikini charts; it should be "and" instead of "ans"

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