Thinking about Layouts
After I finished the geoprocessing, I began to think about the type of layout that would best fit the data and idea I was trying to convey. Inherently less straight-forward and more creatively oriented than geoprocessing, gives a huge amount of freedom to make a compelling and visual product reflecting my design style.
In both maps, I prioritize simplicity in color and layout. Maps 1 and 2 use a straightforward gradient of one hue, while Map 3 uses contrasting colors to help one shapefile stand out against the other. The background frame of the US states and cities/well are grey to offer the viewer a familiar context, but avoid distracting from the main message of the graphic.
Most important to me is a balanced layout: arranging elements in a way that makes clear the overall trends in data, without missing the small, but important details that are difficult to pick out from a distance. These small scale items lend themselves nicely to inset maps - Denver and the South/Southeast in Map 1, and for the five western Shale Basins in Map 2.
For typefacing, a thin white stroke for the labeling allows the dark text to be more easily read on top of the colored shapefiles. More generally, I drew inspiration from work by the The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.