I cannot believe its been six months since I first started enhancing my data visualisation skills by using Tableau on the 1st January 2017 and it has changed my life. As a Data Journalist for a few years, I had relied on infogr.am to generate my visualisations for my stories, but it was not until a friend showed me the benefits of using Tableau in which I was sold immediately and from there I have not looked back.
The main point of this post today is to explain the benefits of Makeover Monday if you are starting out in Tableau for the first time. To be honest, I had no idea what Makeover Monday was at first, but when I got to know more about the project through the website, it was the ideal starting point for me to develop my Tableau and dataviz skills.
Lesson 1: You will not be a Tableau or Makeover Monday expert overnight
When I first started in Tableau, it was initially used for my final year university Production Project. Therefore, I had no idea what charts to use as I was so excited to use the software to generate richer and powerful data visualisations that I played around with different charts to see what worked and what did not work.
On the third week of 2017, I finally decided to take the Makeover Monday plunge and start participating in the project. It was a particularly difficult dataset as it was on the Twitter accounts that Donald Trump had tweeted during the 2016 US Presidential Elections. I knew my first entry was not going to be all bells and whistles so I kept going in the hope that my vizzes would become better.
For anyone starting out in Tableau or Makeover Monday, you will not master data visualisation overnight. It takes practice, practice and more practice to become good at something and with Tableau, its no different to learning how to run a marathon. The more you viz and build up your portfolio through blogging and YouTube videos, the more easier and better you become.
Lesson 2: Learn from others, read and observe
This is something I have learned overtime and that is when you are learning something such as Tableau and data visualisation is to read, observe and learn from others. The amount of things I have learned during the near-six months in Tableau and data visualisation have been so instrumental towards my professional development through initiatives such as Makeover Monday.
I follow quite a few Tableau and data visualisation blogs on WordPress, Blogger and beyond and the reason why I do this is because I like to learn from other people. It helps me to understand how other data visualisation specialists do their vizzes and the ways they are inspired to take a certain direction in their viz. This leads to me setting myself ambitious, but realistic goals to become better in my use of various charts in Tableau, as well as working on my dashboard design.
Here are a few blogs I would recommend for anyone starting out in Tableau:
VizWiz – Andy Kriebel
Questions in Dataviz – Neil Richards
TriMyData – Eva Murray
LearningTableauBlog – Charlie Hutcheson
Points of Viz – Pablo Gomez and Mark Edwards
Sarah Loves Data – Sarah Bartlett
Vizalicious – Rebecca Roland
The Data Duo – Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen
Lesson 3: Be prepared for feedback and learn from your mistakes
My first few Makeover Monday entries, I did not iterate the vizzes at all since I thought that the viz I had created within the hour would be the viz I would publish on my Tableau Public profile. How wrong I was!
Over the weeks I had participated in Makeover Monday, I realised how important it was to get feedback from other members in the Tableau community on social media. Apart from a few hiccups where I was being too keen to learn from others, I found a balance where I am getting consistent feedback for my vizzes whilst also giving blind feedback to other members in the community for their work.
Blind feedback for me works because I like seeing what other people in the community do without giving feedback to the same vizzes each week. This helps me to keep iterating my viz to the point where I can look at my finished product and be proud of the work I have done.
You have to be prepared to learn from your past mistakes and take the feedback on as a positive towards your next vizzes. It may be difficult to take at first, but everyone in the Tableau community is so nice to each other that you will eventually get over the disappointment very quickly.
I have found Makeover Monday to be an incredible project to be on and I will continue to keep the vizzes going, as well as blogging and creating videos about my Makeover Monday process. Eva Murray and Andy Kriebel have been incredible in terms of getting so many people to participate in the project and its something I look forward to at the start of every week.
If you are looking to start out in Tableau and data visualisation for the first time, I would 100% recommend doing Makeover Monday as you will build a portfolio of work that you can show to an employer if you are wanting to work in data visualisation.