Makeover Monday week 40, 2017: The UK economy since the Brexit vote

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On my frequent trips to London, I usually always at least mention the term ‘Brexit’ once. I can’t help it. Much to the dismay of my open-minded, progressive and business-savvy colleagues and friends over there who, much like most of continental Europe, still can’t believe that the majority of voters who turned up for the referendum in late June last year voted to leave the EU.

Adolfo Hernandez, one of our regular Makeover Monday participants, sent me a link to an article in the Financial Times in summer this year, where the FT discusses the UK economy since the Brexit vote. It’s a nice and simple dataset, the original visualisation is a great starting point and it’s an interesting topic, so makes for a good candidate for Makeover Monday.

With that said, let’s look at the original visualisation:

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 11.31.12 am.png


What works well:

  • the subtitle provides helpful context for understanding this viz
  • the colour choices are simple and effective, highlighting the UK as the focus of the article versus the rest of the G7 countries which are still included for context
  • the viz is pretty simple, a line chart with circles for each datapoint to make the measurements stand out
  • the timeline is easy to understand
  • sources are stated


What could be improved:

  • the title is ambiguous. What is ‘growth’ (economy, population, landmass, etc.???) and what is G7 (without specifying the type of growth, G7 could refer to a number of things)
  • the y-axis is ambiguous. What are these numbers? Percentages? It is explained in the subtitle, but to make it clearer it should be stated more obviously near the axis
  • why is the y-axis on the right and not the left-hand side where everyone would expect it?
  • why is there no Q2, 2017 data for anyone except the UK?
  • why are the years stated as ‘2016’ and then ’17’? That’s inconsistent and doesn’t look as neat
  • can we really compare Q1 to only 2 prior quarters? Surely there are specific things about Q1 that need to be factored in, so comparing against more history would be better
  • when did the Brexit vote happen? Why is this not clearly stated for all those who have forgotten whether it was June, July or even September?


What I did:

  • for me this week’s chart calls for purely a makeover. I have, as you can read above, very specific points of critique, so I decided to address these and create what I consider a better visualisation of this data
  • I kept the two-tone colour scheme but used blue instead, and removed the need for a colour legend by updating the font colour to reflect Great Britain
  • I included a reference line for the date of the Brexit vote and reference bands for Q4 to Q1 comparisons
  • I added an extra 2 years of data to show patterns in historic data
  • Including text seemed necessary to call out my reservations about blaming the Brexit for the slump in growth which hasn’t differed from previous years in magnitude
  • of course, my viz is also interactive and the tooltips give additional context for each datapoint



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