Bee Colony Loss is a serious topic that impacts all of us and the environment we live in. Seriously. I picked this topic in the hope that the community would deliver a lot of great visualizations that bring the issue to life and break down the problem simply and clearly. And, of course, you did, so thank you for embracing the challenge, especially during the busy IronViz feeder season.

I really enjoyed seeing how many people experimented with hex maps for the first time. And on top of that, we had a lot of people joining us for the first time, so let’s look at a few of these tweets here:


I really enjoyed the many different hex maps. Each one was different and this was an excellent dataset for using them, particularly because of the topic.

What were some of the challenges people seemed to have this week?



Colors are a great way to enhance your visualization and to highlight specific data points. When there are a lot of colors in your viz, they become meaningless and can easily be confusing. We have written about color in previous blog entries (e.g. week 15, week 49 (2017), week 48 (2017)).

Basically, keep it simple and go easy on the colors. At the same time feel free to experiment and if something doesn’t work, don’t give up, just try a different approach next time. Not every visualization needs to be the most effective in communicating information, BUT if your goal is to communicate information as easily and effectively as possible, pay attention to the use of color.

Ask yourself:

  • Are there too many colors in my viz?
  • Does each color have a meaning and is the meaning clearly communicated to the audience?
  • Have I used any colors multiple times for multiple metrics or dimensions? Will this confuse the audience? (Answer: most likely!)
  • Which colors can I remove while maintaining the overall story?
  • Have I chosen colors that are easy to differentiate from one another and will not be difficult to read for people with color blindness?

A great example comes from Brian Letzelter who used yellow as a color for everything that was related to Pennsylvania. All other states are depicted in gray and shown for context.


Makeover Monday is designed to help you learn and improve and to connect with like-minded people who can help you with that. We like seeing people helping each other. Everyone can contribute to the conversation. It’s not just our opinion that matters. We simply don’t have the capacity to respond to everyone directly. We’d love to engage more, but it just hasn’t been possible next to work, our personal lives, and finalizing the Makeover Monday book.

It’s encouraging to see tweets from people who get feedback, use it to improve their work, share what they learned, and acknowledge those who helped them. What we aim to provide with our weekly webinars is a compact 75 minute session during which we give as much feedback per viz as possible to point out:

  1. Parts of the viz we think are great
  2. Those elements that could be tweaked
  3. How to make the viz more effective overall

We enjoy doing these webinars and they allow us to connect with our community every week. We also feel that giving personal verbal feedback instead of a short tweet is a better approach.

Sometimes we get discouraged when we make the effort to provide feedback and see no changes being made. When we give feedback to someone who doesn’t do anything with it, we feel like we have wasted time that could have instead been used to review someone else’s work. It’s okay if you disagree with our feedback. The best thing to do, though, would be to let us know what in particular you disagreed with. This helps us learn to give better feedback next time.

We enjoy seeing how people turn our comments into changes in their viz. Most of the time the improvements they make are far beyond what we expected. And typically people confirm that they enjoyed learning something new in the process. Showing off the changes you made is a great way to show you can receive feedback and learn.

To wrap up this rather long lesson: If you ask for and receive feedback from anyone in the Makeover Monday community, please use it to your advantage. If you don’t have time to work it into your viz, say so, but don’t just leave the person who commented hanging. They want to see you develop and improve. Seeing feedback acted upon encourages more feedback and the loops continues and we all get better.

This week there were so many cool vizzes and people got creative about a serious topic. Here are my favorites from week 18.