Wednesday, April 7, 2010

UK Election Map: Triumph of Style over Content

In June last year I reviewed the visualizations the BBC were doing for the European election. Well, the BBC have released their new version:

I'm reviewing it again because they've obviously spent a lot of time and money putting the visualization together but it still comes out as more stylish than useful.

Pros: To be fair to them since last time:
  • They've taken out the chart junk 3D
  • They're not differentiating areas using grey any more (at least not in the clip).
  • Why are the floor supports coming up in front of the map? I was left thinking they were marking a specific region for further discussion until I worked out what was going on.
  • By putting the map on the floor instead of the wall you distort the view, making it difficult to locate your chosen place on the map (as per last time)
  • A map on the floor can't be pointed at like one on a wall, making it difficult to follow which bit of the map is under discussion. You could get away with this if you annotated the map as it was discussed but they don't.
  • Beyond this clip the presenter starts discussing other elements than the map. To make the map visually move to the background the map gets a grey mask in front. Unfortunately there seems to be a colored halo around the map and this spreads out from behind the grey mask. Switching the whole map from color to gray and reducing the opacity would be more effective.

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