Annotations are what set visual communication and journalism apart from just visualization. They often consist of text, but some of the most useful annotations are graphical elements, and many of them are very simple. One type I have a particular fondness for is the diagonal reference line, which has been used to provide powerful context in past news pieces, and is making a comeback in the COVID-19 charts.
Communication has been quite a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic, and data visualization hasn't been the most helpful given the low quality of the data – see Amanda Makulec's plea to think harder about making another coronavirus chart. A great example of how to do things right is the widely-circulated Flatten the Curve information graphic/cartoon. Here's a look at the work it is built on and how that has evolved from a figure in an academic paper to one of the clearest pieces of visual communication in some time.
Heatmaps and 3D pie charts are often criticized, and for good reason. But they’re not always a bad choice, and can work for simple data presentation. Context is important when criticizing visualizations, especially when there are no obvious improvements that can be made. [Read more…] about Above All, Do No Harm!