Find the female drummer

What makes a No.1 song? The age of the singer? The number of writers? I spent a ton of hours researching quantifiable data for the top songs of 2009, then pretty much forced a developer to build it for me. The page launched – and got virtually no clicks. Like, really. Not my best moment. (And hey Ken, I’m still sorry.)

Visiting the graphic later made me realize my mistake. It was visually pretty but not compelling. I had depended on the reader to dig around for cool things, when I should have made that part of my job.

For example, I knew all the rock groups in 2009 had exactly four members, and that out of all of them only one was female. (A rockin’ mama drummer for Neon Trees.) Why didn’t I highlight that?

The lesson? Don’t be stingy about giving out some of the cool stuff upfront. Readers need a reason to start reading. Just being pretty isn’t enough.



landing page image for the thank the academy site
Created using Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML/CSS, and a ton of hacked-together JQuery while studying digital media at Georgia Tech, 2013.

If it’s not clear already, I have a perverse interest in showbiz graphics.

I’ve always wondered what makes the perfect Oscar speech. How many people actually thank the Academy? Before making Top Hits, I would have just plunked down every data point out there. But when I sat down to work on the Oscar project, I knew I had to present that data differently.

Thank the Academy has five different views, including what likely gets to the true desire of most Oscar enthusiasts: If I made a speech, which celebrity would I most closely resemble?

In every communication piece, you must find the part that is really interesting to you, and highlight it in some way. Outside of interactive views, Thank the Academy has a page of just quotable statistics perfect for cocktail party conversation. Because what is it that you really want but just to announce that the Academy actually gets thanked less than half of the time and isn’t that FASCINATING?!

Female drummers everywhere would heartily agree.

bar graph of who oscar recipients thanked screenshot of interactive where you can create your own oscar speech chart showing average speech length increasing by decade dot mat representing who was thanked per speech