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Well-designed charts are an essential tool for communicating economics effectively. At the Economics Observatory, we believe that data visualisation should play a big part in exploring a wide variety of economic and social phenomena – and answering questions from policy-makers and the public.

Back in April, we launched our new Data Hub – an open and verifiable tool that allows users to draw data directly from official sources and create interactive and modifiable charts.

Now we are introducing a chart of the day – a feature common in the data visualisation community that is tracked on social media by the hashtag #ChartOfTheDay. You can check out our Twitter feed to find some of our recent daily infographics.

We are using this feature to highlight some of the more off-the-wall facts and findings from the Data Hub, packaged into a visually appealing wrapper. Often the charts are complementary to the running topics of the week.

Sometimes these infographics are charts that we use in daily articles or our taught courses – perhaps recreated with a more social media-like flavour. For example, we have recently looked at how US debt is structured by maturity, economic crises of the past two centuries, and the ‘Baumol effect’ – which explains why labour-intensive services have become so expensive.

Source: ECO Twitter
Source: ECO Twitter
Source: ECO Twitter

We will also use the chart of the day feature to experiment with new visualisation types, such as animation and interactives.

For example, this post illustrates the drastic change in the shape of US yield curves over the past two decades through animation (try the slider).

Similarly, this interactive explorer allows users to dive deep and investigate how incomes in Chicago have changed over time by placing an interactive timeline and a map chart side by side and allowing for cross-filtering.

All #ChartOfTheDay infographics go straight to the Data Hub, where you can also create our charts using the ECO Data Explorer.

Technology-wise, we have been working on several improvements on how we link charts to articles. These changes will allow charts to be more easily used across multiple articles. They will also offer important context when looking at the charts, as they will link to relevant topics and articles on the site.

To help with and augment this contextualisation over time, we have implemented a feedback form that loads dynamically. This means that users should start seeing the form pop up on some of our charts embedded in the articles. If you see this, we’d be very grateful for your comments.

We also encourage users to create and share their own charts on the Data Hub. We hope to feature many of these on our new #ChartOfTheDay feed.

Author: Dénes Csala

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