MakeoverMonday: DC Metro Scorecard

I had one goal this week: could I show all the measures in the space the orginal scorecard shows two?

metro-scorecard

The answer? Yes, and not just by using 6pt fonts!

Bullets are an easy way to see actual against a target, and they take up way less space than curvy bar charts. Missed targets are encoded twice: the bar is below the target reference line and the label is red.

One thing I don’t like about my approach is the arbitrary axis lengths. Some of the metrics are percentages, so you can set the axis range from 0-100%. That way the viewer can see three things:

  1. The actual value
  2. The distance from the target value
  3. How close actual/target are from perfection.

Where the metrics are values, how should you set the axis range? Look at the charts on the right hand side. They are all very different scales. Should I let the chart tool set the range automatically? If I do that, the bar or reference line will be right at the right hand edge of the view. Or should I artificially extend the axis, creating a nicer sense of white space?

The original

There’s lots to like about the original:

  1. There’s a thumbs up/thumbs down for good/bad performance. That makes it easy to identify which metrics are being met.
  2. The actual value is labelled in the centre of the circle.
  3. The targets are defined in text

The main thing to dislike is the curvy bars. They don’t add anything, other than a sense of colour and false excitement. Really, to fix this scorecard, all they’d need to do would be to flatten out the bars and shrink the layout.

[Note: the original was updated to fix an error in the color encoding of my makeover. Thanks to Clibo for pointing it out.]

 

MakeoverMonday: Safe States to Drive

best-state

This week’s original focusses on the worst states to drive in. It’s nearly Christmas so I wanted to turn that around and take a more positive approach: which state is the best. Turns out it’s Minnesota.

My makeover removes almost all detail (ie 49 out of 50 states!) but I decided after exploring the different metrics to focus on a single message: stay safe, rather than let people investigate the data in each state.

You can see that process in the GIF showing my exploration, below. I looked for correlations and patterns, but once I hit the map, I realised I wanted to focus on Minnesota, and spent about half my time getting the display just so.

Exploration followed by formatting
Exploration followed by formatting

The original

There are things to like in this week’s original:

  1. The colour bands are groups rather than every individual rank. It’s easier to identify a colour band representing 1-10 rather than trying to find the one ranked 6, for example.
  2. Maps make it relatively easy to find your state.
  3. They’ve labelled which is best and worst. Should 1 be “worst” state or “best”? They made a decision and labelled the legend.
  4. The small states have their own callout rectangles.

What don’t I like?

  1. I didn’t notice the “Next” button until writing up this blog. Turns out there are 3 charts, but I didn’t notice them.
  2. Choropleths distort values because one value covers large areas.

MakeoverMonday: Global Flow of People

Click here for the interactive version
Click here for the interactive version.

I went super simple this week: all you can do in my viz is select a country and see where people went to. You can only see one origin country and I only exposed the most recent year.

The original chord diagram lets you see a very large amount of the dataset simultaneously.

The original: click here for the interactive
The original: click here for the interactive.

I used to dislike chord diagrams: too complex. really messy, incomprehensible. But then this chord diagram was presented at Graphical Web in 2014, and it changed my mind. Why?

  1. The designers took the time to explain how the chord diagram worked. Once you have worked out the mechanisms, the data pops out and becomes clear. Taking the time to read the instructions and learn how to read a chord diagram is time worth investing
  2. Chord diagrams require interactivity, and that’s fine. The initial state is an overhelming confusion of lines. Interacting brings it to life. Charts that require interactivity can still be valid.
  3. I do not believe there is another way to visualise flow that has so much detail. My own makeover this week is an admission of that: I’m using filters to show only a part of the data. Andy’s own makeover is a massive simplification of the dataset. It’s fine, as a matrix, but comes at the expense of detail, which the chord does contain. Almost all of this week’s makeovers show only a slice of the full data. Only the chord diagram allows you to access it all with ease.
  4. People shouldn’t shy away from complex charts. Chord diagams do not provide instant insight: you need to invest time to read it. That is not a reason to shy away from a chart. Alan Smith discussed this on the PolicyViz podcast: he explained why they used a chord diagram in the FT this summer, knowing it was a chart that needed time to digest. That’s well worth a listen.
  5. Chord diagrams cope with a range within your measures. Some countries have really huge numbers of people moving, while others have tiny. The outliers dwarf everything else when you encode with colour or length. I think width is a more successful encoding in this case.

I love the original chart. It’s visually striking, it’s engaging and there is a vast amount of detail available in one view, once you’ve devoted the time to learn how it works.

MakeoverMonday: Inequality in the US

This week provided a good challenge. It’s difficult to present data which divides one percentage (US Wealth) into categories about another percentage (household income).

My first try is with an Area chart. I like the area chart because it shows part-to-whole for the entirety of US Wealth:

inequality

 

But it doesn’t quite punch home the differential between bottom 90 and top 0.5. Could I do that another way?

I chose to drop the history and focus on just the most recent year.

How about a stacked bar?

inequality-stacked-bar

Or a bar chart?

inequality-bar

 

They’re ok but the fundamental problem is that this approach doesn’t capture the size of “Bottom 90%”. The words “Bottom 90” don’t capture that magnitude of the inequality.

To tell this story in the most powerful way, I think we’d need a way to encode the 90%/0.5% households, too. And rather than spend time making that viz, I’ll share this video instead. It does one of the best jobs of showing the extent of inequality I’ve ever seen:

This week’s original had some annoying design choices.

What I liked:

  1. The legend was clear
  2. Everything that needs to be labelled is: axes, data sources, etc

What I didn’t like:

  1. The tick mark interval on the x-axis. 1917, 1927? Make it 1920, 1930, etc
  2. No need for the dual axis labels
  3. Lots of fonts
  4. Nothing is aligned or spaced out nicely. It’s all cluttered and creates an amateurish look.

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 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