Good data visualization helps readers absorb information or data better than mere text. The article “The Nation’s Economy, This Side of the Recession” from the New York Times visualizes statistics about the nation’s economy and the recession through graphs such as bubble charts and line graphs. Generally speaking, those graphs are well designed and they present the data effectively. However, there are a few graphs that fail to present information very clearly.
I like how the graphs on this page successfully achieve the four principles of graphic design: contrast, consistency, alignment and proximity. Within each graph, the title uses a different font from other words on the graph. The colors are well chosen in terms of contrasting each other. Meanwhile, almost all the graphs basically consist of only three colors: black, grey and green. That makes the graphs on this webpage look consistent. We would definitely not want too many colors because that would be distracting. The graphs are aligned well on the right of the webpage except for a few really wide graphs, and they belong to different sections featuring different aspects of information. The layout of the graphs looks really neat on the page.
Many of the graphs are really informative. For example, I like it that those line graphs inform us well how a certain index changes from 2000 to 2014. The numbers before the recession and the numbers now are marked specifically to allow readers to contrast the numbers. The bubble chart in the “Industrial Ruin and Revival” section is one of my favorites too. From the color and the size of the bubbles, audience have a very clear idea of how the number of private manufacturing jobs has changed from 2007 to 2013. Besides, audience can see what things are like in different geographic areas and make comparisons. The “Change from pre-recession peak home prices” graph actually presents tons of numbers in a very simplified way. We can see changes of numbers for different states throughout the country on this graph. That actually illustrates one outstanding feature of data visualization: it can present so much data in a simple and easy-to-absorb way.
However, there are a few things I do not like about those graphs. The first thing is that in some of the line graphs such as in the “Share of unemployed out of work for six months or more” graph and “food stamp recipients” graph, the area below the line is filled with green and I don’t know the reason for that. Does that intend to emphasize something? If it does not have a purpose, I think all those line graphs should be consistent in terms of the style. Also in the bubble chart in the “A Shrinking, Shifting Middle Class” section, some of the circles are black but nothing tells audience whether there is any difference between brown circles and black circles. That is confusing.