Oh, sliders and ratings. They are a big part of so many of our market research studies. Yet, many of us fall into the trap of using the same standard graphs and techniques to visualize ratings. If you want a change of pace, try doing something more robust... something round!
There's a great book called The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman that inspired the gauges above. Part of Don's practical advice is to observe the design of items we use everyday. The Speedometer and Thermostat designs were inspired by my commute to work and my freezing office. I think they are an interesting alternative to standard linear ratings. Keep in mind that linear displays are a little more intuitive at times. These may not be the right choice every time, but great when you need a twist or a change of pace.
Think you need to be a design whiz to make these? Well, these were all done in PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint, scoffed at by designers and lauded by business elite. This just proves that you don't need to have the fanciest tools, just a bit of inspiration and time to look at things a little differently.