Highlighting data viz best practices around the web

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Economically and Physically, Blackpool is Unwell

Source: Financial Times
Author: John Burn-Murdoch

Best Practices:

  • Great title and use of color in the title so that a color legend is necessary
  • Each chart title is perfectly worded; not too brief, not too long
  • Love the labeling of the lines
  • Including the value of the gaps at the start and end of the line so that the reader doesn't have to do the math in their head.
  • Making the Blackpool line slightly thicker so that it stands out a touch more
  • Good use of annotations
  • Including key metrics that support the title and help explain the problem
  • Minimal use of gridlines on all of the charts to keep it from looking too busy

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Does the scale of the line chart (tall and skinny) over exaggerate the change?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Across the globe, personality is rated as more important than looks

Source: YouGov
Author: YouGov

Best Practices:

  • Excellent title and subtitle
  • Including the survey dates in the footer
  • Good annotations to emphasize the biggest differences
  • Including minimal axis labels then using white gridlines for every 10%; this really helps reduce clutter
  • Symbols for men and women are easy to distinguish from one another
  • Since the title refers to women's preferences, sorting the countries by women's response rate make sense

Recommended Enhancements:

  • Make it interactive so that you hover and see the percentages
  • Allow an option to sort by men's response rate, though this would distract from the title

Thursday, October 26, 2017

U.S. Interstate Highways as a Transit Map

Source: Visual Capitalist
Author: Cameron Booth

Best Practices:
  • Everyone loves a good subway map, the idea to create one for the Interstate System is pure genius!
  • Very clean, very simple map
  • Terrific labeling throughout
  • Nice indicators for junctions and the ends of lines, just like we see all over the world
  • Reshaping the boundaries of the US and to make the map fit
Recommended Enhancements:
  • I can't find Cameron Booth (the creator) on Twitter to give him credit.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Who Earns More Income in American Households?

Source: Flowing Data
Author: Flowing Data

Best Practices:
  • Incredible use of a heatmap for comparisons
  • Good title and subtitle that explain the viz
  • Great interactivity with the year filter
  • Using BANs to summarize the view
  • Simple, effective use of colors
  • Scaling both axes the same
  • Good axis labeling and axis titles
  • Ensuring that the salaries are adjusted to the same dollar value
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Show the value when you hover over a box

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The GOP Has Become Much More Focused on Gun Rights

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Harry Enten

Best Practices:
  • Uses a title that captures your attention and clearly tells you the message you will see in the chart
  • Subtitle that explains the question that was asked in the poll
  • Using colors that represent the political parties
  • Labeling the lines, but in a non-distracting way
  • Shading the area between the lines to accentuate the gap
  • Including the source
  • Gridlines that are evenly spaced
  • Clear labeling of the axes
Recommended Enhancements:
  • I know the FiveThirtyEight brand is to use grey charts, but this would pop more with a white background.
  • Make the gridlines lighter
  • Include the value on the end of each line

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Extreme One-Day Precipitation Events

Source: Instagram
Author: Data Visual

Best Practices:
  • Simple title that tells us what the viz is about
  • Great subtitle that explains the "why"
  • Simple colors that work well together
  • Fading the yearly values into the background for context
  • Including a moving average to smooth out the chart
  • Using two percentage points on the y-axis since the values are so small
  • Overall very clean design
  • Including the data source
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Using a 9-yr moving avg is strange, but when asked, they replied by saying that what was in the data from the government, so it makes sense to use it. Normally, a 10-yr moving avg is more intuitive.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

NFL Ratings

Source: Tableau Public
Author: Luke Stanke

Best Practices:
  • Absolutely incredible design! Everything is just so!
  • Nice subtitle to explain what the data is about
  • Using a viz explainer so the scale is understood
  • Minimal use of color
  • Highlighting the selected team and keeping other teams in the view for context
  • Amazing zoom feature
  • Including an average line for context
  • Season overview chart is packed full of very useful information for NFL fans
  • Love the scaled dot plot next to the performance indicators
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Needs tooltips
  • Left align the top chart with the others
  • Reduce the font size on the axis of the top chart to match the other charts
  • Make the gridlines a touch lighter and the same grey across the charts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Killings of Blacks by Whites Are Far More Likely to Be Ruled ‘Justifiable’

Source: The Upshot
Author: The Upshot

Best Practices:
  • Great use of a waffle chart
  • Great example of storytelling with data
  • Excellent color choices given the topic
  • Putting the explanation on the first chart, then not repeating it to keep it decluttered
  • Including the X times as likely for context
  • Scrolls on and on to accentuate the magnitude of the problem
  • Sorting the cities by the highest rate of whites killing blacks
  • Putting the percentage in bold so it stands out
  • Including sources and notes at the bottom
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Needs a title
  • Allow the reader to pick a single city

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why it is closing time for so many London pubs

Source: The Economist
Author: The Economist Daily Charts

Best Practices:
  • Great use of a tile map
  • Including the Thames makes it easy to see areas north and south of the river
  • Labelling only the left side of each row of charts
  • Keeping the scale consistent across all charts
  • Using area charts makes the decline very obvious
  • Making a darker line for the edge of the area chart helps accentuate the trend
  • Minimal use of colors that match the Economist theme
  • Including a "how to read" chart on the upper left
  • Including the number for the number of pubs for context
  • Sizing the dots for the number of pubs helps see where more pubs are located since the chart shows percent change
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Use a more impactful title
  • Give the borough names more space so they are contained within the blue area

Thursday, July 20, 2017

How has your home price changed?

Source: The Marks Card
Author: Curtis Harris

Best Practices:
  • Title tells me exactly what I'm looking at and tells me that it's about ME
  • Placing the filters between the title and the viz encourages the user to change those first
  • Dynamic text helps summarize what we see in the viz
  • Allowing the user to pick the period to compare against
  • Good use of a reference line for the period the user selects and including a big black dot at that point
  • Making all of the calculations relative to the period selected
  • Great use of highlighting
  • Listing the time periods in reverse chronological order; good trick since most people will probably be looking at more recent periods
  • Overall beautiful, clean design
  • Amazing how-to tutorial
  • Really like the user-centric design; that is, the user can find their own story
  • Including the context of all States
  • Minimal use of color
  • Using light grey for all of the axes and things are for reference; this helps bring the data to focus
  • Nice tooltips
  • Including data source and inspiration in the footer
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The label on the end of the line doesn't need to be so precise; One decimal would be fine.
  • Give enough room on the end so that the label on the end of the highlighted line is to the right of the line; it's overlapping the other lines.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Timing of Baby Making

Source: The Pudding
Author: Amber Thomas

Best Practices:
  • Incredible interactivity
  • Amazing storytelling as your scroll down the page
  • Great use of minimal colors for highlighting
  • Great use of context
  • Nice example of stepped lines
  • Including a link to the source
  • Good placement of the filters at the top to encourage the user to use them first
  • Including event icons which update the viz based on the year you're viewing
  • Great annotations
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Could use a more impactful title

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Electoral College Representation Has Changed Over Time

Source: Washington Post
Author: Denise Lu

Best Practices:
  • Nice use of a timeline and a tile map
  • Using two distinct colors
  • Using colors that have nothing to do with political parties
  • Good annotations
  • Show the outliers really well
  • Labeling each State
  • Great "how to read" chart at the top
  • Very easy to understand
  • State comparisons are easy
  • Context included both in time and by State
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Needs a title
  • Include the latest over- or underrepresentation next to the State label
  • Include the source

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Difference Between the Warriors and Cavaliers This Season Is Striking

Source: Business Insider
Author: Diana Yukari

Best Practices:
  • Including a + and - on the scale
  • Making the zero line slightly more bold
  • Excellent example of a simple line chart that tells a compelling story
  • Including the value on the end of the line
  • Using the team colors for each line
  • Including the source
  • Including axis lines to guide the eye
  • Counting games by 5 on the x-axis
  • Using nice round numbers on the y-axis
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The title of the article should be the title of the viz. The title as-is is pretty boring and doesn't tell the story.
  • The y-axis numbers could be small and grey like the x-axis.
  • Including an axis title on the x-axis. 
  • Put the team names on the end of the line as well.
  • Match the color of the labels to the color of the line.
  • Push the gridlines to the back (it cut through the mark label at the top)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Breweries Opened per 100,000 People

Source: The Pudding
Author: Russell Goldenberg

Best Practices:
  • Really nice small multiples layout
  • Minimal labeling on the axes
  • Sorting in a z-pattern
  • Coloring the area chart from largest to smallest to help accentuate the sorting
  • It's about beer! What's not to love?
  • Nice subtitle that explains the sorting
  • Good use of spacing between the states
  • Scaling all charts the same
  • All of the colors work well together; I'm definitely borrowing this color scheme.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Use a stronger, more meaningful title
  • No interactivity; I can't see any individual values when I hover
  • Include a summary below each state label so we know the total breweries opened per capita

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How UK Savings Compare to the Rest of the European Union Countries?

Source: Points of Viz
Author: Pablo Gomez

Best Practices:
  • Nice title and subtitle that tell me what I'm seeing
  • Using a question in the subtitle
  • Highlighting the country of interest
  • Having all over countries in light grey for context
  • Including a description of the metric
  • Including a link to the data source
  • Excellent example of minimal use of color
  • Light axes that don't distract
  • Nice tooltips
  • Very Cole Nussbaumer style, which is always good!
Recommended Enhancements:
  • 1970 is cut off a bit
  • Include the latest value on the end of the line; if seeing this as static, you don't know the latest value.
  • Match the blue in the title to the blue in the line

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When Fatal Crashes Happened

SourceFlowing Data
Author: Nathan Yau

Best Practices:
  • Great use of ordered colors that scale from best to worst
  • Great example of a heatmap
  • Great overall layout
  • Including interactivity to allow the user to explore what they might be interested in
  • Abbreviating some of the month names to save space
  • Labeling only the 12 o'clock hours am/pm
  • Every pixel has a purpose
  • Love the Inconsolat font!
  • Designing the viz in a way that doesn't require any instruction; everything is intuitive due to the design
  • Nice title that captures your attention
  • Subtitle that tells us how to interpret the viz
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Include the values in the tooltips

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Modelling France’s Presidential Election

SourceThe Economist
Author: Graphic Detail

Best Practices:
  • Great use of colors that are easily distinguished from one another
  • Including the dots for each poll as context in the background
  • Great labeling
  • Including a reference line for the date of the latest polls
  • Labeling the end of each line
  • Every pixel means something; there's nothing extra
  • Very easy to read and understand
  • The FIRST ROUND text does a nice job of dividing the viz into a new section
  • Including images of the candidates (I only include the first two in the image above)
  • Including the candidates' party and a brief description of them
  • Beautiful histograms
  • Nice big numbers at the end of each histogram
  • Including a bold, red line for the most likely vote share
  • Including the red text on the first candidate, but then not repeating that for each subsequent candidate
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Include a more impactful title
  • Including a % sign on the axis

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Making Sense of 724 Million UK Prescriptions

Author: Pooja Gandhi

Best Practices:
  • Great, minimal use of color
  • Alternating the background colors to make sections
  • Design guides your eye naturally around the viz
  • Terrific example of storytelling with data
  • Including a reference line for the average prescriptions per month in the bar chart
  • Amazing summaries inside the circles. Makes it feel like an advertisement and they really draw you in.
  • Great example of sparklines
  • The viz has great focus throughout, making sure to highlight what's important.
  • Using text to summarize what you're seeing
  • Neat idea to include the chemical structure of the two most popular medicines. Makes it feel scientific.
  • Using text size to accentuate the numbers and important points
  • Using lines to connect the different parts of the viz
  • Including context everywhere; this really makes it easy to understand.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Include a more impactful title.
  • What does the shading of the bars mean in the first chart? Is that necessary?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Mac’s Declining Relevance To Apple

SourceBusiness Insider
Author: Mike Nudelman

Best Practices:
  • Clean layout
  • Nice year labels on the x-axis
  • Annotations add lots of context
  • Labeling the start and end of the line
  • Minimal use of color
  • Super simple to understand
  • Including the note about the fiscal year and the source
  • Easy to read font
Recommended Enhancements:
  • I hate how Business Insider makes their designers include the ugly banner at the top. It's distracting.
  • Needs a more impactful title, e.g., Mac's Declining Relevance to Apple
  • Make the y-axis labels the same font and color as the x-axis; this would make the chart stand out even more
  • Include the chart designer in the footer
  • Include dots on the ends of the line

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Eva's First Bike Commute of 2017

Author: Eva Murray

Note: Eva is my partner in the Makeover Monday project. Yes, I am biases towards her work, but this piece is particularly good and NOT related to Makeover Monday.

Best Practices:
  • Nice overall layout; the long, thin layout works well
  • Sections for each metric on the right
  • Making the map the most prominent piece
  • Making most of the metrics big and bold
  • Nice font choice
  • Good title and sub-title that tell me what the viz is about
  • Nice flow to the visualisation
  • Grey background works well
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Make the start and end time sections look like all of the other big numbers (i.e., orange and bold)
  • Add dots on the start and the end
  • Are the metrics good or bad? I don't cycle so I have no context. How could context be added?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3G’s Purchases and Their Profit Margins

SourceThe Economist

Best Practices:
  • Nice use of different colors for each section
  • Great overall layout
  • Lightly shading the time before the mergers
  • All bar charts are scaled the same
  • Highlighting the company of interest in each bar chart
  • Using vertical lines to identify key dates
  • Everything is labeled clearly, but not in a distracting way; there's just the right amount of text
  • Including footnotes for additional information/explanations
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Could use a more engaging title
  • Make the timelines on the line charts the same so that the mergers can be compared vertically

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hours Worked vs. Productivity in OECD Countries

SourceThe Guardian
AuthorNick Evershed

Best Practices:
  • Clean design
  • Minimal use of color
  • Super fast interactivity
  • Nice use of little lines to connect the countries to the dots
  • Light grid lines that guide the eye, yet aren't distracting
  • Nice axis labels
  • Really like the option to edit the chart
  • Trend line helps guide the eye and summarize the data
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Needs a more engaging title. What question is this answering? What's the takeaway?
  • Make to OECD average a different color
  • Needs better tooltips
  • What's the reason for labeling the countries that are labeled?
  • Make the view square. Scatterplots tend to work better when they're square.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Top Brewery Road Trip

SourceFlowing Data
AuthorNathan Yau

Best Practices:
  • The ultimate beer lover's road trip! What's not to like?
  • Minimalist map; stripping nearly everything out of the map makes the route pop
  • Love the addition of the line thickness to show how many breweries are nearby. After all, you'd get awfully thirsty on a trip like this.
  • Makes me feel like I could start anywhere
  • The yellow circles to mark the breweries really makes them stand out on the black lines. 
  • Using open circles instead of filled circles. This helps the viz breathe.
  • Great use of whitespace
  • Everything is super crisp and easy to read
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Make it interactive so I can hover over areas for more information
  • How long would this trip take? Seems like duration would be a good addition.
  • Link to the data source is missing. It's mentioned in the article, but would be good to include in the standalone image too.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Washington D.C. Metro Scorecard

SourceTableau Public
AuthorLindsey Poulter

Best Practices:
  • Awesome scorecard example
  • Super clean and easy to read
  • Including the values on the bars aids in comprehension yet doesn't distract
  • Including a reference line and labeling it for the goal
  • Color-coding the bars by above/below the goal makes problems easy to spot
  • Good color choices
  • Terrific organization, everything is in the perfect spot
  • Including light dotted borders to section the scorecard
  • Nice section labels in grey boxes
  • Nice titles for each metric and subtitles where necessary
  • Really good labeling on the color legend
  • Filtering is out of the way, yet easily accessible
  • Timelines are consistent across all of the metrics
  • Including a dot on the end of each line and color-coding it
  • Including the goal line on the line charts
  • Great context on every chart
  • Included a link to the data source
Recommended Enhancements:
  • I can't think of a single thing I would change or improve. Might this be the "perfect" dashboard?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Surrey County Residents Survey

Best Practices:
  • Excellent display of survey data
  • Nice inclusion of how the net satisfaction score (NSS) was calculated
  • Sparklines show the overall trend for each question
  • Good use of color for the stacked bars
  • Nice padding on the ends of the stacked bars to allow room for the NSS circles
  • Background color matches the Surrey logo
  • Neatly organized overall
  • Nice interactivity and filtering
Recommended Enhancements:
  • More clearly indicate that the bars and NSS represent the latest data
  • Include a dot on the ends of each sparkline and indicate whether it's better or worse than the previous quarter
  • Would a green background on the charts work better than the white? It might be less distracting.
  • Include all of the response types in each tooltip along with the NSS

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Migration within the UK

SourceTableau Public
AuthorRob Radburn

Best Practices:
  • Great example of long-form storytelling!
  • Excellent narratives that add context to the visualisations
  • Good use of color for movement in and out of local authorities
  • Fascinating sociology case study shown displayed visually
  • Great use of a hex map
  • Really like using a map as a legend
  • Nice use of a ? icon for more information and to show the data sources
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Would be nice to be able to highlight a single local authority throughout by clicking on any of the maps
  • Label the map that is used as the legend directly. That would make the map bigger and removed the big legend.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Power to the People: A Quick Look at UK Electricity Usage Patterns

Best Practices:
  • Love the title!
  • Nice annotations
  • Simple design that's easy to understand
  • Black background works well
  • Really nice heatmap; great color choices
  • Nice chart titles that tell you what's happening therefore aiding understanding
  • Nice option to custom the heatmap
  • Line chart makes the seasonality really evident
  • Axes on the line charts help with framing
  • Not including gridlines
  • Great tooltips on the line charts
Recommended Enhancements:
  • The blue text on the black background makes my eyes strain a bit, but I'm getting old. Maybe it's just me.
  • Add tooltips to the heatmap

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Commuting Habits in London

Best Practices:
  • Great minimalist design
  • Excellent additional information in the tooltips
  • Beautiful hex maps of London; first time I’d seen these for London
  • Terrific use of icons for interactivity
  • Nicely placed instructions in the sub-title
  • Great font and color that matches the TFL
  • Incredible insight can be gained from it. For example:
    • You can easily see that most tube riders are north of the Thames while most train riders are south of the river.
    • The primary taxi riders live in the posh sections of the city: Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea.
    • Car commuters primarily live on the outskirts of London.
Recommended Enhancements:
  • Use a different shape in the tooltips to make them look more like bar charts than squares
  • Include a note about the timeframe that was used to create the viz

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Has the Snow Finally Stopped?

Source: FiveThirtyEight
Author: Harry Enten

Best Practices:

  • Really interesting design. I love the dot on top of the bar range.
  • Sorting by earliest to latest
  • The legend is really good at explaining how to read the visualisation. This is especially useful when it’s a chart type that isn’t common.
  • Nice clean view; mostly all bits of ink have a purpose
  • Clearly identified the data source
  • Minimal use of color
  • Bold lines to divide the months
  • Nice annotation that explains why two of the cities have their median way at the left end of the range
  • Good subtitle

Recommended Enhancements:

  • The title is misleading. It gives you the impression that winter ends in this range, which simply isn’t true. This is merely when the last snowfall occurred.
  • The gridlines between the months are unnecessary and misleading. This makes it look like there are four weeks in every month when that’s not the case.
  • The months should be spaced by the number of days in each month to make the bar ranges more accurate.
  • Are the horizontal gridlines for each city necessary? I’d have to see the chart without them. They do help connect the city with the bars, but are they unnecessary clutter?

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

About Me

Blog Archive