Product Quality Heatmaps

Read/WriteWeb has an interesting look at heatmap visualizations. In particular, they focus on Summize, a site specializing in product reviews.

Summize allows users to vote on the quality of products. What's new and interesting is how they present those voting results--with heatmaps. Here is an example:

The colored stripe is a heatmap showing what percentage of users think the iPod Nano is great (the green: 44%), what percentage think it's wretched (the red: 12%), and those in between (the orange, yellow, and yellowish green). One nice thing about this visualization is that it works well even when the heatmap image is small. So, for example, they use a scaled-down version of the stripe next to each item in search results.

The end result is a nice way to see and understand a lot of information packed into a small space--the very definition of a good visualization.

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