Data Viz Done Right

December 4, 2016

Makeover Monday: The Global Flow of People

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The chord diagram that is the subject of Makeover Monday week 49 was selected due to a conversation I had on Twitter with a few people last week. Andy Kirk then suggested we use it for Makeover Monday, so here we are. As I mentioned on Twitter, I have yet to see a chord diagram that I think is easy to read. Perhaps it’s me, but in general, I find them overly complex and confusing. The chart in question is about the global flow of people.


What works well?

  • Design captures your attention and encourages you to interact
  • Design clearly portrays a flow
  • Nice drill in to the country level when you click on a region
  • Good use of size to indicate the number of people moving between regions and countries
  • Really fast interactivity


What doesn’t work well?

  • For me, it’s way too busy; I don’t like how there are lines going all over the place
  • You can’t see any trends, but maybe that was an intentional choice
  • Some of the colors are too similar like East Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania
  • There’s no order to the regions, not even alphabetical, so why are they in the order they are?
  • It’s extremely difficult to compare different arcs, e.g., which region to region movement is 2nd most?

For my version, I wanted to keep it very simple. The question I’m trying to answer is which regions have the highest movement or between or within regions? I chose to present it as a simple heat map and to only focus on the region to region flow. I felt including the countries overcomplicated the visual.

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