So! This was fun. Yesterday I published a post where I pleaded with nonprofits and foundations to add viz to the financials page of their annual report, which is usually just presented as a table of numbers. I shared two redesigns that I made. The one I remade for Gates got a lot of, um, input from the community. Here it is:

GatesFinancialsRevisedI heard from this guy, this guy, and this guy, and that’s just from Twitter. Most of the concern was about the scale.

One guy said, “shouldn’t small multiples showing variables with same unit have same scale?” I said no because the quantities are so different that it would make some variables undetectable.

Another guy said, “Property and Equipment looks like a dramatic drop, but it’s only 0.6% difference.” And I said well maybe that’s a big deal but we don’t know because we don’t have historic data and we don’t work at Gates so we aren’t privy to what’s important to them.


Another guy said, “I’dnt try to visualize this data; stick to the table, 2 values, change %, colors for increasing and decreasing” and a slightly enhanced table might work, like for internal reporting, but as I said in my original post, this page needs to match the engagement, beauty, and glory of the rest of the pages in a typical annual report. (I strongly recommend reading my original piece before making a case for a better design.)

One guy emailed to say my figures are actually wrong because they were originally presented by Gates in thousands. And this is the guy I agree with. See the note at the top of the original table:




So here is your challenge: Visualize the Gates financial information. Do it better than me. You might have to make up some context. What’s the story? Well we don’t know, do we? Lots of possible right answers here!

You have one week. Submit your design to me by midnight January 13 – I want a picture file of your redesign and your notes about your design’s strengths and how it fixes shortcomings in my attempt. Email the whole burrito to me at Stephanie at StephanieEvergreen dot com.

I’ll pull all submissions together and share them next week.

I am super excited to see what you come up with! No matter what, I’m sure it’s going to be better than the table. Then we will send Gates a collective bill for a million dollars.


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