How fast was Usain Bolt’s 100-meter sprint in the 2012 Olympics? A record-breaking 9.63 seconds. But how fast is that?

The New York Times created a video story based on a simple graphic that places Bolt’s achievement in the context of all modern 100-meter gold medalists. It’s amazingly effective. The Olympic champions are represented by runner avatars lined up side-by-side on a single track to show how far back each previous winner would have been when Bolt crossed the finish line.A video example of what graphs, charts, plots, etc. could do better.

Although the video is enriched by narration and some fun camera tricks, the graphic is really just a scatter plot graph: the grid is the track and the data points are runners wearing their national colors. Scroll down to see side-by-side the basic scatter plot graph and the same data displayed with great design. We easily see that sprinters are getting faster and faster over time.
  • DO consider presenting data in a graph or chart. Each type – pie chart, line graph, bar chart, scatter plots, etc. – has its own strengths and style.
  • DO consider which data your audience needs to grasp or would find most interesting. Spend your time illustrating the data that matters most.
  • DO use design elements to enhance the reader’s engagement with the data. A generic chart or graph gets you to the starting block, but you need to be creative if you’re going for the gold.

Feeling nostalgic for the Olympics? Relive the glory, grandeur and goofiness of London 2012 all at once.

Have a marketing design challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email [email protected].

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