I’m a huge fan of the Pew Research Center. They consistently publish interesting statistical insights about society in well-designed visual form.

Recently I saw this chart tweeted by Conrad Hackett that Pew published about a year ago showing which news outlets Americans of different political ideologies prefer as their main source of news about government and politics:

Pluses and Deltas

Pluses: It’s a clean design and easy to see the relative proportions for each particular ideology. There is no clutter in this chart. Obviously it’s an interesting data story that is very relevant to the news in the United States today.

Deltas: I believe there’s an opportunity to improve the ease with which a reader can track the popularity of the various news outlets across the different ideology group columns. Right now it’s tough to see, for example, how the popularity of CNN, or Fox News compares across the ideological groups. You have to scan the bars and read each label to find them. To make this comparison easier, we can use color to link the outlets across the columns, and we can arrange the rows so as to make the relative popularity of particular outlets immediately apparent. Here are three different chart redesigns:

Three Alternatives:

First, we can simply add color to the bars, a hover action to highlight the bars, and a URL action to open the outlet source when a reader clicks on the bars:

Second, we can use the rows differently, so that instead of arranging them by rank, we give each outlet it’s own row. This has the added benefit of showing us how many outlets there are in total, and which outlets aren’t in the top 5 for each group:

Lastly, we can keep the table format and switch the primary encoding from bar length to cell saturation:

I’m curious to know what you think, so here is an informal, unscientific poll of readers of this site: