One of the best ways to learn how to produce good and effective visualizations is to look at good and bad examples and thinking critically about what makes them good or bad. Here we look at 6 examples in detail. We include some questions you can use to guide your students in evaluating each visualization, and we follow up with a discussion of the positive and/or negative aspects of each example. We encourage you to also visit the source sites listed for each example, as the original site may contain further information, and, in some cases, further functionality that may be helpful and/or interesting.
- Sources of Funding:
- This visual attempts to show the relative success of a funding campaign.
- Wealth Distribution:
- This visual looks at how wealth in the United States was distributed in 2007.
- Wealth Distribution Revisited:
- Compare this visual about wealth distribution in the United States with the previous one.
- Race Distribution:
- This map visual shows race distribution in the United States over time.
- Race Distribution Revisited:
- Compare this map visual about race distribution in the United States with the previous one.
- How Americans Spend Their Time:
- This visual uses data from a 2014 survey to dynamically show how Americans spend their days minute by minute.
Based on the examples above, ask your students to make a list of guidelines for good visualizations. Sample answers include:
- Keep things simple. Sometimes data is complicated, but the visualization doesn’t have to be. A simple, clear visualization can make complicated data and clever conclusions about it accessible to the public.
- Avoid clutter. Always think about the message you want to convey, and make sure every choice you make reflects that message and does not detract from it.
- Test your visualization on other people. Ask them what conclusions they draw from it, and make changes accordingly.
- Treemap of the world’s top 100 countries sorted by area https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Top100_states_area_treemap_pop-density.svg
- The 9 Best Data Visualization Examples from 2015 (nominated by members of the Visually team) http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2015/12/28/9-best-data-visualization-examples-2015/
- Impressive data visualization examples from across the web created with Tableau Public. https://public.tableau.com/s/gallery
- Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes. Hans Rosling’s famous lecture combines enormous quantities of public data to reveal the story of the world’s past, present and future development. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo
- David McCandless turns complex data sets into beautiful, simple diagrams that tease out unseen patterns and connections. http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization
- Examples of poorly designed visualizations with a discussion on both their good and their bad qualities http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/data-visualization-examples-of-the-good-and-the-ba.html .
- Examples of ugly, confusing and ineffective charts https://flowingdata.com/category/visualization/ugly-visualization/
- More examples of poor visualizations – http://gizmodo.com/8-horrible-data-visualizations-that-make-no-sense-1228022038
- Poorly designed visualizations with suggestions on improvement – http://www.perceptualedge.com/examples.php