With most of the northern hemisphere enjoying a summer break, you’d think there won’t be much dataviz action going on. The Makeover Monday community is not slacking off. As we reflect on another big week of makeovers, there were numerous impactful vizzes that pointed out the issues faced in rural Indian schools where access to functioning toilets is often lacking.
This week we ran our second live Viz Review webinar with 16 submissions for review. If you’re interested in joining us next week, register here. We really enjoy doing these webinars and giving people feedback. Receiving so many submissions for the hour-long session was very encouraging and made for what felt like a fast paced review session.
Speaking of that, it actually turned into my favourite thing to come out of this weeks challenge. Many of you decided to
ITERATE ON THE VIZ
People asked for feedback, received it, took comments onboard and changed, updated and improved their data stories, so they became clearer, simpler and even more impactful. Well done everyone, that was really cool to see.
A great example for this was Rodrigo who created a nice and clean small multiples line chart, then took it to the next level with some input from Staticum and turned it into a slick looking area chart:
DOING EXTRA RESEARCH
While Makeover Monday is mainly a dataviz challenge and an exercise to help people get better and learn, it is also an opportunity to find out more about a new topic every week and to dive into it further if you wish to.
It was great to see many of you do research into the topic, find some interesting insights and communicate that through your viz. Doing that little bit extra can help you craft a strong message and have a convincing title. Being able to back up your story with data is one thing, taking an important issue and adding the human element through additional research can take your viz to the next level.
INCLUDING CALLS FOR ACTION
This week’s topic was very much suited to adding a section to the viz that would make your audience actually get involved in addressing the issue. It was so good to see this idea picked up by our community to use their vizzes to make a difference.
Lawer Akrofi devoted a third of his viz to giving his audience the option of donating to fund improved access to sanitary facilities for girls in rural India.
Tom Pilgrem spoke directly to his audience to get them a little uncomfortable about the issue and also included a link to a donations page for immediate action.
Each week we also include some lessons learned in this recap. Or lessons to be learned, depending on how you look at it.
For this week these lessons aren’t ground-breaking yet there are things worth repeating, so let’s go through those as well.
LESSON 1: EASY ON THE COLOURS
Every time you use colour in your viz, it should mean something. That could be to highlight something in particular by using a base colour and a single highlight colour, or to have consistency across charts, e.g. by consistently applying the same colour to a specific measure or dimension.Colours can also be used to convey emotions, urgency, importance, etc.
Consider your audience and the fact that when you publish your viz, it will be the first and potentially the only time they look at it. Don’t scare them off with a rainbow of colours that distract from the key message of your viz.
When you create a map, there is no need to make every state a different colour by putting the state dimension on the colour marks card. The states are next to each other, separated by an outline. Reserve the colour for more important things than simply shading the areas.
LESSON 2: ADD CONTEXT
Even just a brief explanation of the topic in a subtitle or annotation will help your audience. After looking at and working with the dataset for a couple of hours, you know what it’s about, while your viewers arrive without any prior knowledge (at least that’s what we can assume in the majority of cases).
Help them out and give them context so they get the most out of your viz.
LESSON 3: HAVE A CLEAR FOCUS
Make the key message of your viz obvious so your audience doesn’t need to search around for the answer to the question ‘so what?’. Some submissions confuse more than they inform by having lots of big numbers scattered right across the dashboard, by using colours inconsistently and by basically making every component of their viz compete for the viewers attention.
Calm things down, simplify and focus your viz. Take away clutter and attention-grabbing elements to help your story stand out by itself.
LESSON 4: PAY ATTENTION TO LABELS AND TOOLTIPS
When you add labels to your viz, make sure they are easy to read, don’t overlap and add value to the story you’re telling. With the states of India on a map, adding labels for each state can quickly get messy. Do you really need them? How about adding a highlight action that displays the label only when the viewer hovers over a state? They still get all the information without all the clutter. Give it a try!
For your tooltips, I’d recommend tidying them up so they are nicely formatted along with your viz. If you don’t need them, feel free to disable them.
LESSON 5: SHOWCASE YOUR DATA APPROPRIATELY
This week’s dataset included the access to toilets in percentages. Do not sum up those percentages across years. That makes no sense. It also means, using a stacked bar chart with years stacked on top of each other is not the right way to show the data.
When using percentages, it’s a good idea to have your label and axis consistent, i.e. when you talk about percentages, use percentage numbers (1-100%) and not their decimal equivalent (0.01 – 1). Pay attention to those small things because for your audience this kind of confusion is like someone trying to trip them up as they walk across the road and they’re left scratching their heads, wandering off in a different direction.
- This for me was the most impactful viz this week
- A single BAN, a filter, an explanatory tooltip and a strong pull at the heartstrings of the audience to take action and help change the situation
- The question in the title works really well, because most of us will be made to really think about the issue
- This viz is much more effective at communicating an important issue than the original one
- Charlie nailed the idea of simplicity with this very clean and minimalist viz
- While he didn’t add annotations or descriptions, his title is pretty succinct
- The colour scheme is great and the colour legend works really well in describing the expected order (left to right) of dots if countries progress consistently across the years
- Clean design, uncluttered, very nice to look at
- Great, clean design with outstanding use of colour. They are subtle, they relate to the topic and they categorize the states at the same time
- Excellent use of maps without making them too ‘mappy’. They aren’t just maps, but rather context provided in the background
- Very slick hover actions
- Lines and boxes break up the view effectively into the different sections but still keep them connected