A bar chart made of dots

The best of Datawrapper charts 2018, part 2

Last week we had a look at two great line charts that Datawrapper users published this year – but of course, no review of the innovative charts of 2018 can be complete without at least one variation of a scatterplot. I’ve often weekly-charted about them before. Scatterplots are the best.

The same thinks Ryan Watts, apparently, an Interactive Journalist at the London-based The Times. You can learn more about the work of his team on the Times Digital medium page. He published the following chart in this Times article about Arsène Wenger, the manager of the British Arsenal football club:

I find this chart a fascinating use of a scatterplot. Ryan was so kind to email me a thorough explanation of why he used this chart type, so I’ll hand the mic over to him:

We have quite a few go-to methods for building interactives and will often turn to produce static graphics with Illustrator or building something a little more complex in D3 if we have the time and if the data suits. When we need to build a chart quickly, Datawrapper is usually our best bet: our styles are already there, the newsroom is familiar with the process of subbing them and we still get plenty of visualisation options. These charts, however, were borne out of ideas that we didn’t originally think we could create in Datawrapper.

It was good to discover that you can push the boat out a little with Datawrapper. The customisation options on the scatterplot are very thorough so, if in doubt, I’ll try an idea there – even if we don’t end up building an actual scatterplot.

He also talked about color choices…

For the Arsenal results chart we did deliberate over how best to use the colours. We wouldn’t usually use a different colour for each bar in a column chart but using the same colour here meant you couldn’t differentiate between the ‘bars’, so we alternated.

…and annotations:

As these improvised scatter-type charts are a little different, we try to make sure we guide the reader through it as best we can: offering instruction to hover or select in the standfirst, where appropriate, and using annotations to explain how the axes work. I usually add an invisible character to the existing axis labels field and then make my own elsewhere on the chart.

Everything we build has to pass numerous tests inside and outside of the team before actually being published, so I was very pleased when our Arsenal results “hack” ticked all of these boxes and appeared on the site (and in print).


We will look at one of Ryan’s other scatterplot adventures in the new year. See you next week!

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