Examples of Effective and Poor Visualizations

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.

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.


Effective Visualizations

Poor Visualizations