The original visualisation is a choropleth map with a corresponding trend chart:
What did I like?
- Clear main and sub title (includes the definition of obesity)
- Interactivity: as you hover over each state, it highlights the corresponding trend on the line chart
- Engaging colour palette, which highlights the regional patterns
- Ability to filter by region
- Ability to filter via the interactive timeline slider
- Colour coded tooltips
What did I dislike?
- Choropleth maps can easily be misinterpreted due to the spatial distortion of differing state sizes (i.e larger states stand out more, smaller states stand out less)
- Lacks a narrative; it is up to the reader to interpret the story
- The line chart is overly cluttered with gridlines and markers for my personal taste
What were my goals?
- Maintain the clear titles / sub-titles
- Employ a hexagon tiled map to equalise the size of each state
- Add a brief narrative, adjacent to the data
- Maintain some degree of interactivity over time
- Remove the trend lines to simplify the view
Here is my first makeover:
￼I had sourced the design template for the hex map from Tableau Zen Master Matt Chambers. He kindly suggested I use an inverted hexagon shape as this would line up more neatly. Here is my final makeover:
Benefits of this approach:
- Each state is equally represented in size, so no one state stands out more or less prominently than any others
- By removing the line chart, it is a simplified version, which may be easier to view
- Interactivity allows the reader to see how the pattern changes over time
- Colours show regional clusters effectively
Challenges of this approach:
- Each state’s exact location has been moved to allow for placement, which may be confusing
- Trend lines are more appropriate for interpreting change over time than colours on a map
- Colours show which states are generally higher or lower rates, but not in which order
The interactive version is available on Tableau Public.
- The Big Book of Dashboards (Cotgreave, Wexler & Shaffer, 2017): p231 – 232 on hex maps versus choropleth maps.