Bailout Breakdown from Associated Press is an interactive applet that lets the user analyze the recipients and amounts of the $700 Billion bailout plan from the American government. The data is presented as a scatterplot with additional information about the representations when the hovers over a plotted item. The markers are color coded to distinguish between pending, pre-approved, approved and paid status. The overall interaction model seems intuitive – both markers an the list items are interactive, the list can easily be filtered using alphabetic characters to reduce the displayed data. The visual design is reduced and does a good job supporting the user to focus on the data.
The usage of the applet reveals some issues that diminish the usability and effectiveness. Tracy Boyer from Innovative Interactivity has written a great article in which he analyzes these flaws and suggests possible improvements. Here’s a quick breakdown of his anaysis:
- Missing zooming and paning capabilities
- Positioning of the “Unknown” values are inconsistent
- Unnecessary interaction needed by the user to reveal the actual applet
One more thing we would love to see implemented: filtering by the status of the payment – the legend is already there, so filtering the data by status could be achieved easily.