In graphics you will get asked to make a bar chart a LOT. It’s the perfect visualization: compact, easy to understand, and quick to produce. But we often turn to it by default, without considering alternatives.
When I first started working on the above graphic, I was given a bar chart of the numbers. The x-axis was essentially all names of a bunch of DC-area counties. Being new the area I had not idea where each was specifically. To cover for my geographical ignorance, I mocked up a couple charts in a map view. I thought I might as well pitch them to my editor.
We decided on the top version, but my first choice still is the bottom right, with the circles. It was a smart choice on her part. You have to push things a little to stand out, but you can’t get too wild. I’ve made that mistake before.
A bar chart was the first choice for what ended up as the below graphic. The managing editor was sitting near me, and I distinctly remembering asking “What if we tried…” and not realizing I had just signed both of us up for five more hours of work that night.
I was proud of it at the time, but I don’t think it works as well as DC graphic. Here I was just starting out in design, with no one to reign it in or remind me clarity always comes first.
My boss for Chrome advocates for being a LOT crazy in your work. Once it goes through the necessary channels, the design will be a fraction of the craziness it once was. But if not many people will see it before you push it out, I say just be a little wild, just enough to make a memorable message couched in the comfort of familiar terms.