Question: In the morning, in those golden moments after you’ve woken but before you really start the day, which website do you head to first?

I know many out there will likely point to Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin but it’s a standing testament to how much we love data visualization here at VisualCue that usually we look at something like r/dataisbeautiful on Reddit or dadaviz.com.

These websites aggregate some of the most informative visualizations out there. And whenever we find one that we find particularly insightful we like to share it along with some of our thoughts on what makes it so effective. Hopefully by doing so we’ll inspire someone out there to join us in the quest to bring informative, unique visualizations to the world.

Recently, this map over at dadaviz.com caught our eye. Now, this website in particular seems to specialize in brightly colored maps, but this one was particularly striking in how deeply they dove into their data and how different views and comparisons showed different dimensions.

It’s one thing to say that half of the population in the United States is concentrated in only 144 counties. That fact alone didn’t strike us as overly impressive, perhaps because we have no frame of reference: how big is a county, anyway? Looking at it on the map helped put some of it in perspective, but it got even more dramatic as they dove deeper.

For example, that the largest county in the country has a population roughly equal to the 11 smallest states in the union. That is the entire population of eleven states living in a small patch of Southern California.

By placing the information on an easily understood map and using a striking color scheme we were able to put this information in context and see it in a new way. The result is something so much more impactful than showing us rows and columns of numbers.

It’s a testament to the power of data visualization: the bigger the numbers get, the harder it is for them to make any sort of sense. But, put those numbers in an intuitive visualization and suddenly the big picture, in this case the very big picture (and very cramped, if you’re in LA), becomes clear.

For more on the importance of simplicity and intuitive presentation in data visualization check out our other blogs here and here. And, if you’re looking for a bit of light morning reading, be sure to check out r/dataisbeautiful and dadaviz.com.

And of course stay tuned to The Cue for more insight into the world of making data beautiful.

Till next time,

VisualCrew