Travel and Visualization

While planning a recent trip to Los Angeles it was interesting to see how ubiquitous charting and data visualization have become in the world of consumer travel.  If only most corporate dashboards would do as good a job of presenting data to decision makers as Bing and Hipmunk.  For all of Kayak’s filtering and functionality, it’s surprising that they haven’t elevated their UI (and as a result their UX).

Bing does an elegant job of integrating predictive analytics without much fanfare, but gets the job done right:

Boston to LA flight data


Kayak wasn’t quite as successful in elegant presentation but did put the search results into context (although Bing’s prices were almost 50% less)

Fare history chart

Hipmunk has by far the most visual UI and does a great job of eliminating 99% of the gadgetry and impairments to making a quick and confident travel decision:

Charting airline data

Last year I wouldn’t have recognized any of these examples as “data visualizations”—but they are all definitely data-driven graphics and excellent examples of converting information into actionable insight and that’s what data visualization is all about.

Google didn’t make the grade at all in terms of UI innovation with their new Google Flights product.  A gratuitous and boring map is all they offered in terms of graphics and it was of no value whatsoever (and a huge waste of screen real estate):

Flight path visualized