Speaking of unusual graphics, here is a great example from Nicola who tried to use a waterfall chart, similar to a parallel coordinate chart. This type of chart may be extremely useful to reveal multiple connections between the variables in the data set. Both Alberto and Randy were impressed by this outside the box thinking.
"As I usually say: Try It. If it doesn’t work and it’s not clear, just discard it and try something else.” –Alberto Cairo
From outside the box, we go to an example that is very literally inside the box. This data viz, created by Joel Martin and Tim Grilley of Nordic Consulting sparked the most intrigue by both Alberto and Randy. There seems to be is a fact box for each country and the box is proportionally scaled but we aren’t sure to what. In the left corner is a percentage, the bottom right corner is a ranking number and in the upper right is another percentage. The X axis compares western countries to eastern countries and the Y axis represents overall taxation.
“It’s similar to a bubble chart but with rectangles. It’s a very interesting concept. There is something intriguing about this graphic form. The designer in me is intrigued!” – Alberto Cairo
“I definitely like this especially if the area does correspond to some value from the original. It’s generally easier to gauge squares than circles. I’ve underscored that in some of my past charts.” – Randy Olson, Postdoctoral Researcher and Reddit Community Leader, University of Pennsylvania Institute for Biomedical Informatics
Ultimately, Joel and Tim tried something new and different and found a unique way to tell one of the stories hidden within the original graphic.
Sometimes, there are multiple stories to tell, as illustrated by the chart created here by Ignacio Albano, Caitlin Edmunds, Ian Campbell, Tony Nash, Ann Weiner, Marina Romanova and Andre. This group was one of the only ones to propose sorting controls in the redraw and that caught Randy’s attention.
"I really like that they hint at some interactivity in this chart with sort controls. I absolutely love that idea. We aren’t sure what the story is in the original graphic: it would be best to present this data in an interactive format where people can sort the data in different views. They could then find the story in the data.” –Randy Olson
Hmm, finding the story within the data, that has a really familiar ring to it…but I digress. We’ve highlighted just a few of the many submissions we received and there were so many other great examples that we want to recognize and you can view them all below. But before browsing the gallery, there are some final words from Alberto that feel like an apt note to close on:
“At the end of the day, data visualization isn’t based just on rules, it’s based on process. It’s like analyzing data in some sense: when you are exploring your data set you explore things like geography, frequency of connections between variables and you use different graphic forms to represent each of those. The reason you do is because each one will yield a different message.” -Alberto Cairo