Yahoo! has a “dashboard” to let you track the progress of the various candidates in the US presidential race (at http://news.yahoo.com/election/2008/dashboard). Since I’m currently working on a dashboard myself, I thought I’d have a go at improving it from the point of view of information design.
Firstly though, a critique of the current Yahoo! design, in order of importance:
The division between Democrats and Republicans seems unnecessary. Since there can only be one president, why would I want to track the parties separately like this?
The poll ratings are given rising and falling trend indicators, but they’re not very informative. A better trend indication would give me a feel for the situation. Some candidates might be on slow decline, or others might be up one day, but down the next. Over time, I want to know who is steady, who is on the up and up, who is sinking, etc. None of this is apparent.
The issue of money raised is interesting, and there’s clearly a disparity between popularity and spend in some cases. This is quite hard to pick up though.
The Caucasian share of the vote is huge – that could do with more clarity. And again, context: if stats are available, it would be good to compare this with the last election.
You can click on each column to sort it. That’s nice.
So, with the above in mind, here’s my shot at improvement.
Disclaimers: I forgot to put in the names of the candidates (doh!). I’m not making much effort on the graphic design front – I agree it looks rather less attractive in comparison. I’m also guessing the relative proportions of things like line lengths.
Gone is the pointless division between parties. For the faithful, I’ve added a new graphic at the bottom left to show the relative performance of each, with the current highest and lowest poll ratings of any candidate in that party.
Sparklines give a good indication of what’s been happening with each candidate (note that these lines are totally made up for the sake of demonstration).
The use of double bars to indicate the poll rating against the amount raised reveals the disparities here (see Huckabee and Romney).
An interaction note: clicking on the triangles above the main columns would sort them in the same way as the current Yahoo! design does. Note that to sort by money raised, you would need to click on that one of the two available sorts in that column.
UPDATE: Here’s another tack on it (and with some graphic design bits to make it closer to the original). This time, by narrowing the rows, I was thinking it might make comparison easier.
I would also show all candidates (maybe using in-page scrolling) if I could since sorting in reverse order is interesting too.
I’d do the per-state view differently from this to allow comparison with national averages so as to get a better feel for states by party, etc. That’s for another day though…