Data Viz Done Right

December 12, 2016

Makeover Monday: Where are America's Best Drivers?

For week 50 of Makeover Monday, we reviewed a series of three maps from USA Today:


What works well?

  • Grouping the States into sets of 10
  • Gradual color scaling with black being the most negative
  • Calling out the smaller States separately
  • Labelling is clear and prominent
  • Good color choices
  • Simple title


What could be improved?

  • A filled map doesn’t add much value since there aren’t any apparently regional trend. Just because you have States, that doesn’t mean you MUST have a map.
  • They have three separate maps, which makes it hard to compare them.
  • Could have a more impactful title
  • For me, it’s counterintuitive to have 1 as the worst and 51 as the best.
  • It’s a very negative message. Wouldn’t something a bit more positive be better during the holiday season?


I found myself iterating A LOT this week. Starting with filled maps, then hex maps, then dot plots, then a series of dot plots. Here’s a GIF of my process:


For my view, I’ve included all of the metrics in a single view, allowed the user to sort by the value they are most interested in, and also reversed the axis, so the best is on the left. I liked their color palette, so I’ve re-used that. My titles also update dynamically based on the metric selected since the purpose of the view changes.