Telling a Good Story with Interactive Line Charts

The New York Times does a great job using interactive graphics to tell a story. Recently the New York Times reported on the details of the United States 2011 budget proposal and how the projected budget deficits may affect US policies and power in the upcoming years. As part of this article, web designers created an interactive line chart that shows how US budget forecasts match up with reality. This animated line chart is a great example of how interactive graphs can tell a story that words alone cannot tell.

The first view of the line chart gives a snapshot of the past budget and budget forecasts. Tooltips provide detailed information about individual data points on the chart.



Additional steps in the chart animate and illustrate how budget projections are often incorrect regarding deficits and surpluses. The user is invited to examine individual years through using the slider below the chart.


The later steps in the chart outline possible reasons for inaccurate budget projections, such as changing assumptions about the unemployment rate and the overall health of the US economy.


As you can see, these interactive line charts tell the story of budget forecasts very well. They clearly illustrate a history of inaccurate budget projections and possible reasons behind these errors. In addition, the interactivity and animation found in these graphics engage and entertain the reader.

I hope you are inspired by the great work the folks at the New York Times is doing as I am. I recommend you explore their website to see what else they have produced.