California Budget 2013–14

Yesterday I looked at the aboriginal Canadian identity infographic and wondered if bubbles in a bubble suffice for understanding size and relationship. Today we look at an interactive graphic from the Los Angeles Times where I do not think the bubbles suffice.

California Budget 2013–4
California Budget 2013–4

In this graphic, I cannot say the bubbles work. Besides the usual difficulty in comparing the sizes of bubbles, too many of the bubbles are spaced too far apart. These white gaps make it even more difficult to compare the bubbles. Furthermore, as you will see in a moment, it is difficult to see which programmes receive more than others because there is no ranking order to the bubbles.

Below is a quick data sketch of the state funds only data for 2013 and 2012.

California Budget 2013–14
California Budget 2013–14

While I did not spend a lot of time on it, you can clearly see how simply switching to a bar chart allows the user to see the rank of programmes by state funding. It is not a stretch to add some kind of toggle function as in the original. One of the tricky parts is the percent growth. You will note above that my screenshot highlights high speed rail; the growth was over 3000%. That is far too much to include in my graphic, so I compared the actuals instead. That is one of the tradeoffs, but in my mind it is an acceptable one.

Credit for the original goes to Paige St. John and Armand Emamdjomeh.

Author: Brendan Barry

I am a graphic designer who focuses on information design. My day job? I am the data visualisation manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. (This blog is my something I do on my own time and does not represent the views of the Fed, blah blah blah legal stuff.) And with my main interest in information design—be it in the shape of clear charts, maps, diagrams, or wayfinding systems—I am fortunate that my day job focuses on data visualisation. Outside of work, I try to stay busy with personal design work. Away from the world of design, I enjoy cooking and reading and am interested in various subjects from history and geography to politics to science to the arts. And I allow all of them to influence my work.

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