Aid Transparency: Whose Doors Are Open?
Note: I’m taking the 6-week Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualization course offered by the Knight Center and taught by Alberto Cairo. I wrote this blog post as one of the third week’s assignments.
The main goal for my data visualization is to allow readers to engage with the 2012 aid transparency data released by Publish What You Fund. For a reader to engage with the data, they must be able to dig as deep as possible and compare the indicators.
I started by watching the videos provided by instructor Alberto Cairo on interaction design. Next, I read Guardian’s Datablog post “World aid data: every country ranked for transparency.” I then downloaded the data sets, but that was a mistake. I immediately felt overwhelmed and lost. I realized I’d missed a step, so I downloaded and read the PDF of Publish What You Fund’s "Aid Transparency Index 2012" report. Now the data made much more sense.
What questions would my readers ask? Here are some that came to mind:
- Who is the most transparent, and who is the least?
- What makes an organization transparent?
- How can they be more transparent?
- How can I (as the reader) compare the 43 indicators?
- How does my country’s organizations rank in comparison to neighboring states?
- Where is the aid going?
- How is the aid being used?
I created rough sketches of possible interfaces and mainly tried to determine what type of charts or maps would best convey the data for readers. Several sketches were crumpled and trashed.
I initially tried to address each of the above questions. I made the decision it was best to nix the last two as that’s not really the point of the data. They could definitely be followup stories to explore and a way to create an ongoing series on aid transparency and awareness.
The title of my interactive graphic is “ Aid Transparency: Whose Doors are Open?” It consists of three main interfaces: Overall, By Indicators and By Country. By Indicators and By Country present several levels of interactive information.
The Overall page of the visualization gives a broad look at the data. It shows the total 72 organizations broken out by how they faired and how many organizations fell into these broad categories. This chart answers the question of which organizations did the best and which did the worst.
At the top of the page we have the headline followed by the summary or sub-head. After the sub-head are the three navigation buttons. Each page includes these buttons along with the headline and sub-head for consistency. Each page also includes the footer with byline and source info.
The By Indicators page has two charts within it. The first is Grouped Indicators and the second is Individual Indicators.
Grouped Indicators is your typical stacked column chart. Readers can see how the 72 organizations compared against each other and explore what percentage the organizations received for each transparency indicator. If a reader hovers over a column, then a popup appears with the percentages specifically defined. Additionally, I added radio buttons for each of the indicator categories so that readers can toggle them on or off in order to explore just one or two indicators at a time.
The Individual Indicators chart is a matrix chart. This allows readers to answer the question of how each organization faired for each of the 43 indicators. The y-axis lists all of the indicators, which are hotlinked so a reader can read a quick summary of its meaning. Or the indicators could have a hover over effect, so that if a reader hovers over the indicator, then a bubble appears with a short explanation. On the x-axis, we have all of the organizations. Colors and placement are consistent with other charts within the interactive graphic.
The only thing I’m not too sure about is placement of a drop-down menu of the organizations. It could go up top with the other menus, but probably moved below the radio buttons of the overarching indicators. Or moved to the center right of the chart, or at the very bottom to the right of the x-axis labels.
I didn’t create a visual mockup of this page. Though it would be an Excel chart or embedded Google chart that breaks down the organization and all of the data sets by country. A world map would not work for this since some of the organizations are bilateral or extend past country barriers.
This portion of the interactive graphic would have different features so that a reader could compare specific countries of their choices, how they did overall, etc.
See the mockups of my interactive graphic above. Something that is missing: Each page should have a link allowing the reader to get the data. I would probably place it in the footer. Providing direct access to the data is key of any infographic or data visualization. Plus, come on — it’s an interactive graphic on transparency.
I welcome your feedback as part of the creation process.