Data Viz Done Right

September 4, 2016

Makeover Monday: Alan Rickman - An Actor’s Life


This week’s Makeover Monday subject was sent to me by incoming Data Schooler Anna Noble. Nothing like kissing up to the coach before you even start. 😋

The viz in question is from The Slow Journalism Company:

What works well?

  • It’s obviously a timeline.
  • It’s clearly about Alan Rickman.

What doesn’t work?

  • It took me a while to figure out what the being on each side of the timeline meant.
  • Horrific colour choices; apparently the colours identify the genre. You can see that in the microscopic font on the lower left.
  • Colours with zig zagged lines are always a bad choice
  • The pointy things
  • The pie chart
  • The annotations aren’t near the data they represent.
  • You have to use the zoom feature to read anything.
  • It makes me dizzy.

For my makeover, I wanted to do something very simple. This data set calls out for something simple and clear, especially after you spend time trying to understand the original. I have no idea who Alan Rickman is as I’ve never read any Harry Potter books nor seen the movies. Yes, I’m a terrible father! I once again used 100% floating objects to create this. I’m really loving the precise control that lets me have.

Click on the image for the interactive version (but really there’s no need as there nothing more to the live version other than a mobile view).


  1. Hi Andy,

    I really like your makeover. Clear, simple, beautiful and there's no danger for epileptics!
    However, we loose some information from the original, like the timeline or how his movies were rated. Maybe adding 1 or 2 more worksheets at the bottom would complete the dashboard.

    have a nice day.

    1. Agreed. The ratings info didn't get added to the data until I was finished. I also just wanted to do something really quickly. Didn't have much time for it this week. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. Hey Andy nice work, did you use Adjusted Gross? I got a different Top 10:

  3. I am very confused about the big grey span in the middle, on the original. Did you work out what that is meant to be?

    1. I assume some sort of gap in time.

    2. That was my initial assumption, but the span is between 1999 and 2001, a smaller or equal gap compared to many of the others.

      I guess in the grand scheme of terrible things about this chart, it doesn't really matter...