Simple Is Normally Best
This short but sweet interactive by the New York Times on living on minimum wage is another great example that clearly demonstrates how the simplest visualisation can often be the most effective.
The interaction couldn't be more straightforward. You choose your state and then enter in how much you currently spend on rent, bills, transportation, healthcare and food etc per month. As you enter these values the stacked bar on the right updates to reveal how much money you would have left to spent this year or how much debt you'd be in if you earned the minimum wage.
Through this minimal interaction and simple visual output, a powerful message is succinctly conveyed to the viewer; that the minimum wage truly does not go far in today's America.
There really is no need for any added bells and whistles here, and believe me I know that as a designer there is often some amount of pressure to add other items of "visual interest" or to "dress the data up", but more often than not there is simply no need. Here we see how a simple chart can effectively tell a complex story. This is what data journalism is all about. This is what we should be striving to achieve in our own presentations of data.