Going into week 3, Eva and I knew we’d see a ton of maps. Fortunately we saw hex maps and tile maps and not too many filled maps. Using hex or tile maps helps your audience see each State evenly rather than a filled map which makes tiny States nearly impossible to see. Thank you also to everyone that made sure to note who they learned to create these map styles from. People in the Community work hard to produce these tutorials for us, so please continue to recognize their efforts.
As I mentioned on Viz Review, I’ve decided that I’m only going to pick favorites from our data.world project. Why? First, it’s much easier for me and second because it good for our partnership with data.world. They’ve done so much for us that’s it’s only reasonable for us to give back to them. Hence you might notice me disappearing a bit on Twitter.
Eva also instructed me to stick to two lessons this week, so here they are for you.
LESSON 1: ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Often it’s the little things in data visualisation that separate the good from the great. And it’s simple, honest mistakes that are easy to correct and should be corrected. If something doesn’t look quite right, it probably isn’t. This week, Tushar More inadvertently published a tile map of the US that was upside down. He was learning how to create the map, likely got excited about what he was able to accomplish and hit publish before stepping back. One thing with the hex map template most people use: the y-axis needs to be reversed for the States to display in the correct position.
What’s great about this scenario is that Tushar took on the feedback, admitted he messed up, and immediately fixed it. Well done Tushar!
LESSON 2: SENSE CHECKING YOUR DATA
When I chose this week’s data set, I intentionally left Puerto Rico in the data. Why? Because I was curious to see how people would treat it. The data is about US States and way too many people assumed via their viz that Puerto Rico is a State. On the positive side, many people did some great analysis that showed how much of an outlier Puerto Rico was. Consider this viz by Simon Beaumont:
Simon directly calls out Puerto Rico as an outlier. Ok, so what? Well, read the subtitle: “Looking at the household income of American States…” Guess what? Puerto Rico isn’t a State; it’s a territory. Calling it a State is simply not correct. Now, I forgive non-Americans for not knowing this, but when you see something that is such an outlier, do a bit of sense checking. By typing “Puerto Rico” into Google, you’ll immediately be told it’s not a State.
How can you then include Puerto Rico without calling it a State? Removing the word “State” is a good start. Puerto Rico IS part of the United States; it’s merely not a State.