WordPress Country Stats, a cartographers complaint

In the category of moderately new features in WordPress, I really appreciate the new WordPress Country Stats, with the nice touch of flags of the nations, and a map.  As an inveterate map snob, however, the map drives me crazy:

Why?  Because choropleth maps are bad for showing count data, unless all the polygons are the same size.  Look at the map above– France and the US have the same number of hits, but it is easier to notice the US, because of its larger land area.  It makes for a confusing or even misleading map.

So, how to fix it?  Cartograms are one solution.  But, they can be confusing, and many really don’t like them (they are often quite ugly).  Another solution is variable sized symbols, for example this map:

from WordPress year in review 2011.  This would require some thought relative to how to show this within the limited form factor of the WordPress stats map, but not a prohibitive amount of thought.   For example, symbol clustering to the continent level would work for large clusters of hits from Europe.

Anyway, my 2 cents… .  Still love that it’s there, even if it does drive me crazy.  🙂

3 thoughts on “WordPress Country Stats, a cartographers complaint

  1. I’ve thought about this as well but have gone so far as to wonder why we even need the map in this case. I’m not sure what real purpose it serves. A table with country name (and flag maybe) and total number of visitors would convey the information effectively.

    I suppose a map would give a good visual cue as to visits by region (Hey, I’m big in Europe today!) but that could certainly be accomplished by a map on a click-through, similar to how they currently handle summary data. In essence, I agree that current map implementation leaves a lot to be desired.

  2. I’d rather like to know which pages the users of those countries visited. Hope this feature will be released one day.

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