Iron Viz! What a challenge. Take all the skills that you have learned through practice and the Public community, sift through your toolbox, and produce an engaging dashboard for the given topic.
One of my favorite aspects of Iron Viz is that it is an end-to-end process. I start by brainstorming topics and hunting for data. This time, I originally thought the animal option of the animal or plant prompt was more interesting to me. I had ideas of trying to analyze which animals make zoos popular (based on zoo visitations), tracing the descendents of dinosaurs, or examining the history and success of race horses.
While I found these topics interesting, I did not feel connected or passionate about any of the topics above. Back to the drawing board. I quickly came around to the topic of the effects of medical cannabis on epilepsy. I had some initial insights into this space-- my little brother has intractable epilepsy – meaning that his epilepsy is not able to be successfully controlled by medicine. I occasionally hear my mom talking about a new study that has shown very promising results using the plant cannabis, but I frankly did not know much about the topic. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to learn.
I decided early on in the process that I wanted to infuse a personal touch into my design. One thing I admire about FiveThirthyEight's dashboards is their use of annotations. I thought I would take my own spin on this and use a custom font made from my own handwriting to annotate my dashboard. I used this font to highlight some of my analysis of the data.
My original dashboard was a "long and tall" style. The annotations were mixed into the dashboard. While there was a definite narrative, I felt the dashboard was becoming cluttered. I decided to break the main elements of the dashboard apart, and place them into story points. This separation allows each section to focus on a particular element while still within the larger story. I added the notes section in the margins to create the feel of a notebook.
While you always learn something from practicing and vizzing, here I will categorize my learnings into two major ideas. 1) Viz about something you have passion for. Your analysis will be driven by your curiosity and determination to deliver a product that is useful and informative to others.
2) Do not be afraid to go through multiple iterations and even go back to the drawing board on an idea. While this is not a new learning for me, this Iron Viz did serve as a good reminder. One key to successfully iterating a dashboard is allowing an appropriate amount of time for review. If you are crunched for time, it is likely your first design will be your final. I was able to start this challenge a week ago which gave me time to work on it, put it down, and come back to evaluate my design choices. Most of the main elements remained the same throughout the process, but the iterations in structure, ordering of elements, and additions/removals of supporting elements helped this dashboard greatly.
I hope you learn something from my dashboard. Thanks for reading.