Everyone always gets really excited looking forward to the new year. And we get it: it’s a brand new year full of possibilities, a clean slate to work from.

But we get sentimental around the VisualCue offices and at times like this we love to look back at some of our favorite memories from the past year.

And, same as ever, those memories include our favorite data visualizations from around the Internet. Added bonus- they all have something in common.

Here they are: VisualCue’s top 5 picks for best data visualizations in 2015!

5. Earth

It was one of our first, and it still makes the top 5 of anything we’ve ever seen. This stunning visualization of our planet shows real-time wind and weather patterns all in a way that is intuitive to understand and beautiful to look at. It’s the best of both worlds.

Earth never looked so good.
Earth never looked so good.

4. Solving the data mystery

This visualization has it all- beauty, mystery, and murder most foul! The brilliant team at The Guardian poured through Holmes texts (which sounds like the best way of gathering data) and put together a series of beautifully illustrated visualizations that not only captivate but inform.

Holmes would be proud
Holmes would be proud

3. Lightyear.fm

What can we say about Lightyear.fm? This is arguably one of the most immersive, innovative data visualizations out there. Not only is the idea clever and interesting but it’s execution was spot-on. The way the songs fade in and out, how you can click on nearby stars to get more information- the whole experience works together to create a data visualization we’ll just turn on and let play.

Good to know Harry James is still popular
Good to know Harry James is still popular

2. Isochronic Distances

This amazing piece of data history ranks highly not only because it struck a chord with our friend Ted Cuzzillo, but because of how simply and elegantly it presents an entirely new view of the world and gives us a unique window into the past. We loved because it was the world at a glance, and it was the world as no one had ever seen it before.

Good luck getting to Alaska
Good luck getting to Alaska

1. Cinemetrics

This visualization was, and probably always will be, one of our absolute favorites. Frederic Brodbeck’s site had us happily clicking away for hours, marveling at the way he was able to condense an entire, complex, 2+ hour film experience into one wheel.

When he added motion to denote action within the scene that put him solidly in our top 5- the perfect way to see entire stories at a glance. With added features like comparing movies or narrowing it by genre this is one visualization we can easily, and happily, get lost exploring. But we may be biased- we do love movies.

who new Top Gun and Fantastic Mr. Fox were so different?
who new Top Gun and Fantastic Mr. Fox were so different?

 

To Sum Up

It has been an amazing year for data visualization, and we can only see it getting better. What we particularly loved about this year is that all of these visualizations tell a story at a glance- whether that story is what the world was like in 1915 or how Holmes solved his crimes, these visualizations give you exciting details in context. And without context, there can be no stories: data-driven or otherwise.

We’ll see you in 2016!

Happy New Year,

The VisualCrew