Data Viz Done Right

July 4, 2016

Makeover Monday: Where Are the Best & Worst States to Raise a Child in America?


This week the UK Zens are on Tour and we’re taking Makeover Monday on the road with us. And it’s Independence Day in America so I chose a visualisation about raising children in America. Happy birthday ‘Merica!

What works well?

  • Nice big titles make it easy to know what the map is about
  • The colors make is easy to see the good and bad concentrations.
  • Alaska and Hawaii are neatly brought in under the continental U.S.

What doesn’t work?

  • The ranges for the colors are equivalent.
  • Using a filled map could lead to visually distortion; poor Rhode Island!
  • The separate maps that you have to page through make comparisons too difficult.
  • There’s no way to see a State’s ranking in all categories at once.

I iterated through lots of ideas this week and found two that I think work well.

  1. I changed the filled map to a hex map then put all of the maps side by side.
  2. I created heat maps and bump charts that show the individual State rankings in each category.
  3. I added bar charts in the tooltips.
  4. I included highlighting interactivity. 

Both views are shown below. Which one do you prefer?


  1. Andy,
    I struggled with this one this week and the first solution is exactly what I imagined but could not execute.
    So for that reason the first is my preference, the highlighting is very powerful.
    Great work!

  2. Andy,
    great work!
    The only thing is the tooltip should be corrected on the 1st dashboard.

    Thank you for your interesting posts!

  3. I prefer the first one. It's a really clean visual! Bump charts are hard to read for me when there are more than a dozen or so members.

    For the first solution, is there any way to regulate when the Label switches from white to black. I know Tableau automatically determines that based on the gradient, but I found the differing points for each color to be a little distracting.

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