Edward Tufte’s Envisioning Information describes a few important principles of data visualization. I turned my eyes to a map which I have kept in my room for a while. The map was actually a part of a flyer promoting an airline ticket agent. I kept it only because I didn’t have other maps at hand. However, time failed to make me like this map any better. And now, I have solid reasons to slap this poorly designed information clutter.


First of all, you will already feel an information overload with a glance of this map-redundant words and notes, jumbled grids and lines and overuse of colors. The designer doesn’t seem to try sifting through the info-he/she just stuffs all the details into the limited space, which hides the really useful info and keeps viewers away.

Secondly, this map employs poor color strategies. Obviously it wants to differentiate between the states using multiple colors. However, it attempts to use a wide color spectrum-yellow, violet, green, orange-which resembles the rainbow colors that Tufte suggests to avoid. It slows down the viewers’ interpretation. These bright pure colors in strong contrast to each other also create noisy effects to the viewers. As large area background colors, instead of “doing their work most quietly”, they obscure the highlights. Furthermore, too many closed areas in different colors split the whole picture as well.

As of the boundaries, because of the strong contrast of bright colors stitched together, the multi-hue color changes in fact blur the contours instead of reducing the ambiguity. The problem is even worse at the right of the map where the states’ shapes are less regular:


The lines that represent various levels of road routes are hard to find – there are just too many to sort out and their colors are hidden by the loud background.

In short, this map is confusing to viewers basically because of its overload of info and lack of efficient strategies to represent the info on an ordered, integrated and clear layout. It also breaks a lot of rules that Tufte provides. I would rate the map 1.5 points out of 5.