Visualization: Baby Name Popularity Over Time

The “Baby Name Wizard’s NameVoyager” is a Java-based, web UI for looking at the popularity of baby names over time. When we were deciding on names for our newborn daughter, I would occasionally pull this up to see how common/rare a name was.

On its surface, it’s simply an area chart. For a given name or set of names, you see a names popularity expressed as “usage per million babies” over time (with decades on the X axis). From a visualization perspective, it’s interesting because it’s constantly updating as you type in a name. You can choose to view names for boys, girls, or both, and the area chart updates as you type — type in “Alex” and you’ll see Alex, Alexa, Alexis, Alexander, Alexandra, Alexandria, and so on. I like how, in addition to updating constantly as you type, it also animates the updates leaving the whole interface feeling very smooth.

Not that you’ll need to have the Java runtime on your machine in order for the applet to work.