Reflecting on my first two Tableau #MakeoverMonday weeks so far – a lot to learn

After being recommended to try Tableau’s weekly social data project #MakeoverMonday, which is run by Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray, I have immersed myself in the project which has given me a place where I can share my work on social media within the Tableau community and get feedback by other participants. Whilst it has been a tough learning curve in terms of staying within the hour time limit to make the visualisation, it’s given me some reflective thoughts that I can take into for future weeks.

Firstly, I have to start with this week’s dataset, which was about New Zealand’s International and Domestic Tourism Spending. What I did first was look at how figure.nz did their data visualisation of International and Domestic tourism spending in New Zealand to find out what I liked and disliked about both of those visualisations. This gave me some scope of what I wanted to do for my makeover of the viz, but one critical error I made was that whilst I did look at the dataset, I did not do enough research around the area I was looking at, which was picked up on by the Tableau community on Twitter.

nz-makeovermonday-week-2-screenshot-updated

What did I do for the Makeover?

  • I was playing around a lot with the idea of a lollipop chart as some pre-Makeover Monday exercises, but I wanted to try and use the lollipop chart to identify the minimum and maximum regional tourism spending in New Zealand regions.
  • The main idea for this was to use the regions in New Zealand as the lines and the years as the circles. This would give it some interactivity to the viz and try to put a new angle on my story.
  • In previous vizzes I have published on Tableau Public, I predominantly used a white background as the canvas to my dashboard, with this makeover, I wanted to replicate the colours of New Zealand with the black, white and grey, which gave it a distinct look to the New Zealand rugby team.

What would I have done differently for this week’s Makeover?

  • Don’t be afraid of downloading other Tableau Public user profiles to try and replicate what they have done. It’s okay to try and replicate the work that has been done by the community and put your own spin on it.
  • Research! – I cannot stress this enough, but I need to research the dataset in more detail so I can understand the dataset more clearly, otherwise I will continue to make the same mistakes from the past two Makeover Mondays I have participated in.
  • Relying on averages as a sum, do not use an average of an average sum when analysing aggregated data. Andy Kriebel mentions about this avoidable mistake the Tableau community made on this week’s Makeover Monday on his VizWiz blog.
  • Staying within the allotted hour for Makeover Monday – This is the second week in a row where I’ve gone over the allotted hour for Makeover Monday, so I need to spend less time messing around with visualisations and more time figuring out what story I want to tell with the dataset for the makeover.

Things to work on this week in Tableau

  • Keep experimenting and working on different ways of visualising datasets in Tableau using Andy Kriebel’s Tutorials on YouTube, as well as looking at the Tableau forums for advice and guidance.
  • Making another published viz in Tableau on a dataset that is not sport-related.
  • Continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone in Tableau by trying to replicate what other people have done in Tableau.

As I’m continuing my Tableau development, it has given me so many skills that can make me employable for graduate jobs when I leave Birmingham City University this year. Also, its helped me to become better at teaching people how to use the software, which feeds into my personal development as a Data Journalist and Data Analyst when it comes to applying for The Information Lab’s Data School 6 in the middle of March 2017.

With that said, I really enjoyed this week’s Makeover Monday and I’m looking to get better with each week I take part.

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