is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Setting aside this awful feeling for a moment: here are a few of my favorite electoral maps — from an information design perspective, not from an electoral math perspective — from this Election Day just past. It’s mildly interesting how the various news outlets and independent sources each tackled the challenge of visually assessing how the country voted. I say “mildly” because as a design problem, the electoral college is almost banal in its limitations. There are only so many ways you can show this data.
I don’t fault any of the designers of these maps for producing straightforward and relatively unambitious solutions. Sometimes, the most obvious answer is the most appropriate, and if nothing else, these are attractive designs that I genuinely like. Still, none of these achieve that perfect balance between functionality, ease-of-use and content. Probably, it would have been a good idea for me to hunt around some lesser-known outlets to ferret out some real information design gems — there must be some out there — but I was too busy hitting the Refresh button. And cringing.
This one is my favorite, at least from an aesthetic standpoint. The slight perspective adds a touch of class, and they still manage to point directly to all of the smaller states in the northeast. I think the roll-over flag is super-sharp. The design handles zooming and panning a bit clumsily, but not as badly as some others.
Though very slow in calling states for one candidate or the other last night, this map benefits from the Times’ high standards for information design. It just looks no-nonsense and definitive, what with all that data flashing about everywhere as you roll your mouse over the states.
The Times gets some bonus points for including a prominent link that allows users to see the electoral value of each state, rather than the just traditional geographic view. This is a heartening mode for losers like me: the conventional geographic view always makes the advantage of the so-called red states seem tremendous and insurmountable compared to the spatially paltry blue states. Looking at the country according to who possesses electoral votes reminds us that almost half of the population voted for Senator Kerry. All hope is not lost.
This is big and hokey and, oddly, more reminiscent of the old school of USA Today’s infographics than even the map USA Today produced this year. Still, it has a kind of charm to it.
Surprisingly modernist and tasteful… excepting the fact that it hurts to look at those colors.
Not the prettiest by any means, but deserving of a special mention for consistently providing an interesting visual representation of polling data in all the months leading up to Election Day. A look through this site’s archives is an invaluable tour through the recent history of political strife this election season.