U.S. News

U.S. News Best States

Making data work for journalism. Already well-known for its popular rankings for colleges and hospitals, U.S. News & World Report wanted to try its hand at evaluating something new — the 50 states. U.S. News planned to compare the states by gathering thousands of data points about each one, and using that data to gauge their performance. We worked to define and develop a web app that would allow their editors to feature data-driven stories —  alongside the actual data — that would help readers dig into the numbers behind the rankings.


  • Challenge

    Help U.S. News leverage data to tell the stories of the states that serve their citizens best.

  • Solution

    From the provided data, define which charts should exist and standardize that data, to generate all of the charts, tables, and graphs from a single, flexible source.

  • Results

    A single standardized and flexible dataset paired with a robust delivery solution to power site’s over 160,000 animated charts and graphs.

How we did it.

  • Definition and Documentation

    We extensively defined how each data point would be presented in visualizations. This system definition allowed us to create over 160,000 unique charts.

  • Data Modeling

    We reviewed, standardized, and consolidated thousands of data points within dozens of unique data sets to ensure data accuracy. This reliable and structured data allowed us to create thousands of charts at once from a single data source.

  • Technologies

    Using Postgres’ native JSONB datatype allowed us to quickly iterate on the data import process until converging on a relational solution.

  • CMS and API Integration

    Seamless integration with U.S. News’ CMS and APIs was key so that authors could manage Best States content within their existing editorial flow.

  • Translating spreadsheets into usable data for chart creation allowed us to visualize the metrics that are the backbone of the ranking, giving the audience the power to explore.

  • During buildout, we added features like lazy loading, chart animations, and infinite scroll to match anticipated user behavior and needs.

  • As the rankings were released, the site drew the attention of Senators and Governors alike, giving these government leaders a data-driven way to show their state pride.

  • Work
  • U.S. News - U.S. News Best States