After my #Data16 talk Chad Skelton challenged me to do a simple remake of the Guardian sunburst-type visualisation that I critiqued in my Sealed with a KISS talk (which you can now watch live at this link).
The original visualisation is show below:
While initially engaging, I find this view complex to read and extracting any useful information involves several round trips to the legend. The circular format makes the visualisation appealing while sacrificing simple comprehension. Could I do better though?
Chad suggested small multiple maps and I agreed this might be the simplest approach but I was not happy with the resulting maps:
Alaska and Hawaii why do you ruin my maps? The Data Duo have several solutions and my favourite is the tile map.
Thankfully Zen Master Matt Chambers has made Tile Maps very easy in this post and so I followed the instructions, joining the Excel file he provided onto my data and giving a much more visually appealing and informative result. The resulting visualisation is below (click for an interactive version):
However I still wasn’t satisfied with this visualisation, it has several problems:
- it separates out the variables per state, meaning the viewer till has a lot of work to do to compare each states full rights.
- it still requires the use of the legend to fully understand
- the hover action reveals extra info meaning the users has to drag around to reveal the story
- the legend is squashed due to space
How to solve these issues? I spent a while pondering it and eventually I found a possible answer: I could use a single map but split each hexagon into segments (ignoring marriage as it is allowed in all states – another solution woudl have been to cut out a dot in the middle for the seventh segment).
To do this I’d need to split up each Hexagon into segments, therefore I took out my drawing package and created six shapes:
These six shapes have transparent backgrounds and, importantly, when combined create a single hexagon.
Now with these shapes I can use a dimension (such as Group below) on shape, and then use colour to combine each hegaxon into different segment colours on the map (using Matt’s method and data for Hex positions).
Using this technique I therefore created the visualisation below (click for interactive version):
Using this method it would be possible to combine 3, 6, 9 or 12 (or possibly more) dimensions on a single map by segmenting the hexagons. Similarly using a circle in the middle would allow 4 or 7 dimensions.
I’m not sure how applicable this type of method is to other visualisations but please let me know if you use it as I’d love to see some more examples.