2011 Eco-Audit of the Mesoamerican Reef Countries

The Mesoamerican Reef, the largest reef system in the Americas, is threatened by coastal development, unregulated tourism, pollution and overfishing. The first-ever 2011 Eco-Audit documents the extent to which recommended management actions have been implemented in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico to reduce these sources of impact. TRUTHstudio was retained to develop an appropriate visual display of the Eco-Audit results in a 4-page briefing document for regional decision-makers, supplemented by country-specific PowerPoint slides and a wall poster of the results..


Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI)
World Resources Institute (WRI)


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The results of the Eco-Audit were laid out as a large-format poster that could be displayed together with the Reef Report Card, a poster-size a biennial audit of the health of the reef also conducted by the Healthy Reefs Initiative. The results were also integrated into a 4-page handout for media and decision-makers. The choice of pie-section 'Harvey balls' was driven by a desire to visually communicate regional variations in performance without unduly sensationalizing specific results. Alternative options are shown below.
The original request to TRUTHstudio was to redraw three diagrams (Table 1, Table 2, and Figure 2 to the right) for incorporation into a 4-page text report. In the final version, much of the report text is integrated into the data visualization.


Prior to selecting the pie-section 'Harvey ball' display format, TRUTHstudio collaborated with the client to explore a range of visual options for communicating the results of the Eco-Audit to relevant audiences. Factors considered included: ease of visual scanning for best/worst performance; consistency with brand/graphics of HRI's reef report cards; ease of communication with decision-makers; visual emphasis on the positive value of the reef; flexibility in different contexts of use; and retention of meaning if converted to greyscale

Alternative Options

Option B was ultimately selected for meeting all of the necessary criteria, and particularly for its ease of comprehension for diverse audiences..
The version of Harvey balls developed by Consumer Reports was considered for eas of scanning for both best- and worst-performers in a category. The team concluded, however, that this method might be less comprehensible to some audiences.
Since HRI's Reef Report Cards make extensive use of the red, yellow, and green 'stoplight' palette, the client asked TRUTHstudio to explore a number of options that would integrate this color palette. The use of two different visual differentiators (color and shape) to describe a single variable (performance), however, is both redundant and confusing.
Alternative shapes and methods were also explored, but these proved less visually effective at small scales.
The results were also incorporated into a 4-page bi-fold handout, the first page of which is displayed here.

4-Page Handout