MakeoverMonday: wildlife strikes

uh-oh-birds

We got to makeover with my favourite dataset this week. The full wildlife strike dataset is one of the best to explore. It has a great mix of measures and dimensions, and seemingly endless stories to find in it.

Our source was Kelly Martin’s excellent take on the data. Is it an amazing dashboard? Yes, without a doubt. Is it perfect? Of course not: the perfect visualization does not exist.

There is much to love about Kelly’s dashboard. Here’s a few things that stick out:

  • Lovely title – a play on Superman motto and sets up the viewer for exploration
  • Really nice layout with enough intrigue and flow to keep the viewer’s eye moving around the views to find out more
  • Effective use of colour: only one view has colour, which I find very pleasing to look at
  • Great annotations add some focus where it’s needed.
  • Log scale on y-axis condenses the data nicely (but be honest, did you notice it?!)

But all dashboards can be improved. Here are some of the challenges with this dashboard:

  • The axes are ‘invisible’. I think it took me several return visits to this dashboard to even notice the x and y axes. They seem to be a long way from the data, but there are actually some data points right at the left hand side. Have you ever noticed them?
  • The floating map and extent of the axes make me wonder how many data points are hidden behind the map? I suspect not many because low velocity strikes must surely happen on the ground.
  • It’s not clear what the marks on the scattterplot represent. They’re beautiful, for sure, but ask yourself (without using tooltips): what does each mark represent? I was unable to answer that question. Even with the tooltip it’s hard to describe what each mark shows. Don’t believe me? Then tell me in the comments what each mark shows, and how long it took you to work it out.

 

 

 

MakeoverMonday: The Top 100 Song Lyrics

Click here for interactive version
Click here for interactive version

I loved Chris’ original treemap (for reasons explained below). When it was made Viz of the Day, I heard lots of people say that it was a terrible choice: “you can’t make any insight out of that treemap”, they said. However, I sat in a big group of customers and partners that day, and showed the viz on a screen. What happened? They engaged in it – the treemap generated curiosity in a way my bar chart doesn’t. The subtle use of highlighting on Chris’ original teases people into exploring the data.

However, one of the first things I’d noticed was that the most common words were also the most common words in English. For my makeover, I wanted to exclude those words. I downloaded that data from Wikipedia.

It turns out that ‘baby’, ‘oh’ and ‘yeah’ are the most common of the uncommon words (if I did this again, I probably exclude the next few hundred common words to start getting to the uncommon ones). I like that “Na” is in this list solely because of Hey Jude.

I did recreate Chris’ original too:

top-100-song-lyrics
Click here for interactive version

MakeoverMonday: Austin Restaurant Inspections

franks-mm

We needed some Austin-related data for MakeoverMonday live at Tableau Conference. We turned to Restaurant Inspection scores from Austin’s data site.

I went in search of lunch in order to do the makeover, and found myself in Franks, home of hot dogs and cold beer. I sat down and ordered a bacon-infused Bloody Mary. Seriously? Bacon in a Bloody Mary? It was amazing.

From PenAndFork.com
From PenAndFork.com

Anyway, it got me wondering how well Frank’s had performed in recent inspections. That led my direction. I reduced the entire dataset to just Frank’s inspections. Turns out their last inspection was right on the borderline of failure.

My conclusion? Wonderful Bloody Mary. They passed my Restaurant Inspection!

Andy and I hope you all enjoyed MakeoverMonday live, wherever in Austin you ended up doing it.

Visual Design Tricks Behind Great Dashboards

At the Tableau Customer Conference this week, I did a session entitled “The Visual Design Tricks Behind Great Dashboards”.

You can watch the recording here. (registration required)

Here are the resources I shared.

Design Tricks

seasonality-in-us-road-fatalities

For all the design tricks, including the impact/difficulty breakdown, check out my Design Month posts.

Books

Visualizations referred to in the talk

both

I hope you enjoyed the session! What other design tricks would you add?

 

MakeoverMonday live in Austin!

keep-mm-weird

Andy and I are very excited to be doing MakeoverMonday live in Austin at the Tableau Customer Conference, on Monday November 7th. This is our chance to say thanks to everyone involved, welcome some new friends, and play with data.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Where and when is it?

where

It’ll be at Level 2, Westin. We start at 2.30pm and finish at 4pm. Full details are in the data16 app (available on Android, iOS and Windows phone)

Will it be full?

YES. Due to many other factors, we could only secure a room for 100 people.

If you want a spot, get there early!

What if there’s no room?

places-nearby

We’re sorry we couldn’t get a bigger room. But all is not lost! Here’s what we recommend you do:

  1. Say hello to the three people standing nearest to you.
  2. Invite them all to the nearest bar or cafe (there is no shortage of choice)
  3. Have a coffee/beer/cocktail and do MakeoverMonday wherever you end up. Cheers!
  4. Share a photo on twitter with #MakeoverMonday hashtag.

We will have flyers to hand out with the info you need to do the Makeover wherever you end up.

What’s the data?

The data will be shared live on Monday and on Twitter. Here’s the link to all the MakeoverMonday datasets.

Safe travels, and see you in Austin!

MakeoverMonday: Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

simd

My first thought on seeing this week’s original was to try another way to show distribution. I turned to the boxplot, an under-appreciated chart. Steve Wexler, friend and co-author of The Big Book of Dashboards, really dislikes them, suggesting that laypeople don’t understand them. I disagree, and think that a lack of understanding is only caused by lack of exposure to them.

Hopefully my “How to read a boxplot” instructional image at the top helps those unfamiliar with them!

Boxplots pack a large amount of useful info:

  1. The whiskers spread to show outliers. Glasgow has a high SIMD score, but the data is very spread.
  2. Comparing location is much easier. Consider Glasgow/Dundee in the original and the boxplot:
    glasgow-dundeeIt’s much easier to compare the two cities in the boxplot.

My boxplot still needs more work, which I would do with more time. I think it’s important to know how many data points are in each category. The Shetland Islands has a really narrow box, but that’s partly because there are only 7 items, compared to, say, 133 in Glasgow.

MakeoverMonday: US National Debt

apples-and-organges

We threw you a curveball today. Only two numbers? This is a great challenge.

I did play in Tableau for a while, but then began to think about what these numbers really mean, and what the goal of the original infographic was. The problem is that comparing national debt to anything else is like comparing apples to oranges. And if you do compare it to other things, you run the risk of suggesting that because it’s so large relative to other things that there’s a problem.

That isn’t necessarily true. National debt isn’t like household debt, or currency, or assets. It’s a funny old beast. Here’s 3 of many amazing articles about this:

All of which isn’t too say that high levels of national debt aren’t a problem: they are.

My makeover’s goal was to make it clear that the different values aren’t the same kind of thing. Since there were only two numbers, it seemed right to pull out the pen and paper!

This week’s original

All of the above is one thing, but at the same time, I concede that the original wasn’t explicitly trying to say that US National Debt and, say, all the currency in the world, are similar. They were just trying to give you an idea of what the value represents. I do think there’s a lot of scaffolding around just a few numbers, but as an infographic to sit down and digest, it was a compelling read.

 

 

MakeoverMonday: US Election Poll

I got some real insight this week: all states ebb and flow for/against each candidate at pretty much the same pace. If that’s the case, why do the candidates pour resources into swing states, since all changes are reflected at the same level on the national scene?

This is reflected in the GIF below:

Click here for an interactive version
Click the image to see the animated GIF.

The US election is around the corner and this week we turned our attention to the polling data. We’d like to thank Drew Linzer for allowing us to use the data from the Daily Kos site.

My goal was this: how could you tell a story in a different way to all the poll trackers, without a map? I decided to drop the data on the independent candidates (sorry Johnson and Stein) and focus not on the actual polling percentage of Clinton and Trump, but the difference between their polling percentages. The gap is more interesting to me.

the-gap
Show me the gap!

I goofed around with just making the chart of the gap, which was interesting. You can see that while Trump’s been in the lead a few times, he’s never pulled out a big gap, or held onto it for long.

dashboard-6

Once I’d drawn that chart, it was then a simple case of adding State to the column shelf and realising that there was beauty and insight in the pulse of all 50 states. By adding the animation, I hope I’ve emphasised that all states go up and down at the same pace.

One thing, though – my chart is an elaborate way of showing the same thing as this line chart:

Each line represents polling position of each candidate in each state over time.
Each line represents polling position of each candidate in each state over time.

But where’s the fun in just doing a simple line chart? 🙂

I built an interactive version too.

The original

The Daily Kos tracker is great. There’s a challenge with poll trackers: how do you make them interesting? The Daily Kos tracker is pretty similar to the ones on FiveThirtyEight, HuffPo, WSJ, etc. The good news is that in this election, the data was volatile, so the trackers were interesting charts to look at.

Boring data makes for boring charts (this is from the 205 UK Election)

As I wrote after the UK Election last year, the poll trackers used by the media were unsuccessful (in terms of drawing in audience) because the data didn’t change.

election-pulse-tracker-no-page-shelf

It’s the small dataviz things: Paragraph Legends

How do you communicate what the dots, marks, and lines on your chart show? Most often, you’ll use a legend. They work well, but check out the this from the Huffington Post. They created a Paragraph Legend (as I’m going to call it).

huff-po-para-legend

Why’s this great? I mocked up what this might look like if we used a regular legend. Try and decipher the chart using the “traditional” approach:

the-normal-way-with-a-legend

In order to decipher the chart you need to read the paragraph. Then the chart. Then go to the legend. Then back to the paragraph. Then back to the chart. Finally you might understand what’s on show.

Now look at the Paragraph Legend. Read the paragraph, look at the chart, and then maybe back to the paragraph once more. I found it much much easier to decode the chart with the Paragraph Legend. Like all small things, this is harder for the designer, but an improved experience for the audience.

[This is the second time I’ve reused Andy Kirk’s amazing idea to blog short posts on great things they see in dataviz. All credit goes to Andy for the idea. I’m going to call my series “It’s the small things….”]

Beautiful Science of Data Visualization

beautiful-science-summary
Go see Carlos’ original tweet

I had a great time keynoting at the Crunch Conference in Budapest last week. What a great city and what a thriving tech scene!

My keynote was the Beautiful Science of Data Visualization: my favourite subject! The original content was developed by Jeff Petiross. My version has evolved from his, but they’re essentially covering the same content.

I was really impressed by Carlos’ sketchnotes. Too often, sketchnoting doesn’t actually capture info in a way I want to read it. However, Carlos creates sketchnotes which are amazing summaries. Go check out the rest of his stuff!

Someone else who does amazing sketchnotes is Catherine Madden.