Makeover Monday Week 9 – World Economic Freedom

This week’s dataset is an interactive Viz from the Fraser Institute, it showed the worldwide economic freedom (and other metric) scores for every country of the world from 1970 – 2015.

What works well

  • I like the ranking table on the left, the arrows showing if they’ve gained a place is a nice touch.
  • Colours are easy simple, it’s easy differentiate the good from the bad
  • High level of interactivity, can compare countries and look at different metrics

What could be improved

I only have two gripes with this viz and they are:

  • A worldwide map doesn’t lend itself well to showcasing smaller countries (which is especially bad in this viz, as the top two countries are actually city-states)
  • The scroll bar makes it a bit hard to compare how the countries have changed over time

What did I do

For the past few Makeover Mondays, I’ve been picking relatively simple charts and trying to perfect them.  I feel this is often the best approach, but I wanted to force myself to learn some new things so this week I tried out something different this week.  Check it out here.

  • The first thing I did was hit the play button a few times and looked for any countries/regions that changed dramatically.  I noticed South America changed colour quite a bit, so I decided to make that the focus of my Viz.
  • Since I was focusing on a smaller area, I felt like a map would now might be appropriate to use (really, I just wanted an excuse to try out
  • I kept the rank table, but split it into two, to show the differences between 1980 and 2015 (I picked these dates because some countries did not have data prior to 1980, I also excluded French Guyana and Suriname because they only had data from the mid 2000’s onwards)
  • I included a line graph at the bottom to show a the countries change over time, if I was keeping this simple, I would focus only on this graph.
  • I added a parameter to allow the user to change the metric they wanted to compare.  I’ve used parameters in the past, but it was only this week that I felt like I really understood how they function.
  • I normally try to use neutral colours, and use red to highlight anything I want point out.  This week I tried out some different colours.
  • I didn’t mention this in the text, but the map tooltips also display another line graph.  This was mainly because I found out that you could put sheets in tooltips and I wanted to try it out.

I think the way I’ve laid everything out could definitely be improved, but overall I’m happy with the way it turned out and can’t wait for next week to show off everything I’ve learned!

Makeover Monday Week 8 – Where Does Your Medicine Come From?

Over the past few months I’ve been getting involved with #MakeoverMonday, a weekly social data project that takes a look at some less than perfect data visualizations and looks to redesign them, either improving on the original, or by exploring new stories hidden within the dataset.

Starting with Week 8, I’ll be posting a blog post to accompany my submission, so I can write down my thought process and rationalise the steps I took.

The original viz

By just glancing at this viz we can immediately see who the big exporters of medicines and drugs are.   Including the values within the bubbles helps to add context, so that works well.

However, as the bubbles get smaller, the user has rely on text to read and compare, so any bubbles smaller than Hungary don’t really add anything.

I’m not sure if overlaying the bubbles over the map adds anything to the viz, to me it’s just more clutter.  The use of colour isn’t bad, but it really only serves to reinforce the bubbles.

My Viz

Normally my approach to makeover monday is to look for interesting stories, or cool ways to present the data.  This week’s dataset was fairly straightforward though, so I decided to stick with a simple bar chart but to supplement the medicine exports with medicine imports.  This revealed some really cool information.  Germany, for example, has barely any medicine imports, while a country like Ghana imports more medicine than any other country barring the US.

For a while I couldn’t decide whether to display the bars side-by-side or overlapping.  Ultimately I went with the latter option, partly because it saves space and allowed me to include more countries on my list and also because I kinda think they look thermometers or hypodermic needles?  Anyway, I’m happy with my choice.

I used consistently to make it clear which bar represents imports and which represents exports, I picked a black background because I normally just leave it white and fancied a change.  Red and white for the bars seemed to stand out the most on a black background, so I chose them for the bars (plus the whole thermometer/needle thing).

Lastly, I included a few annotations on some of the more interesting bars, to add a bit more context.  I like using text alongside the data instead of above or below, I think it’s a more efficient use of space although it can get cluttered if you use more than two or three annotations.