Data Viz Done Right

October 26, 2016

US Debt: A Makeover of a Makeover

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Wow! What a day yesterday was! Lots of interaction and debate on Twitter about what is and what is not a makeover. Let me set my position: I think a makeover has to use the data provided and improve upon the original visualisation. Others use Makeover Monday as a playground to work with lots of different data or try new techniques. Those are all fine and dandy, but for me, a real makeover uses the same data as the original.

Part of the discussion yesterday was about critiquing work others have submitted. I've shied away from this because I don't want to discourage anyone from participating. Fortunately, Santosh Patil has agreed to let me give his week 43 submission on US Debt a makeover. thanks Santosh!

Let's first look at his work:



For this makeover, I'm only going to focus on what doesn't work:

  • Does it need a dark blue background? This makes some of the text hard to read.
  • What are the candy stripes for on the donut chart? What value do they add other than decoration?
  • What's the purpose of the globe in the middle other than decoration? What purpose does it serve?
  • Overall, there's just too much going on for me, for what is essentially two data points.

Below is a ten step makeover I did of his work, starting with the original. Hopefully this helps you see how I think about data visualisation and the simplicity I think we should strive for.

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