Elections are a key responsibility for interactive news teams. In the run up to the event, polls and predictions tend to be popular features. On the night itself, sites see some of their highest traffic as readers search for realtime results. This leads to some late nights as newsrooms compete to build novel widgets and systems solid enough to cope with spiking web activity.
Earlier in the year, Guardian editorial requirements came to focus on three key items. I'm glad to be able to say we got them all built in time…
An interactive map shows results from the last election and features a swingometer that lets readers try out different scenarios in voter shifts. I really like Mark McCormick's “pixelated” equal area map and the transitions that Martin Shuttleworth put in between the map and bar chart views. The swing “joystick” came out of some early prototyping with the graphics team. I'd have to check with Peter Snow, but I think it's the first time anyone has managed to swing three ways.
Our poll tracker showed new data each day from a series of key opinion polls. It allows readers to switch between an aggregate view and the results of each individual poll. We had fun working out how to animate smoothly between graphs:
The main focus for live results was a map drawn from a series of JSON files published throughout the night by Aristotle, our backend datastore that is updated automatically from Press Association feeds. We also built a “bento box” for our front page featured a series of live data widgets:
It was nice to see the swingometer featured on the Flowing Data blog – I've been a fan for some time.