#MakeoverMonday – Week 39

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Since first learning of #MakeoverMonday back in May of this year, I’ve been a participant roughly one-third of the time. While that percentage definitely needs to improve, my approach, when participating, has been to use #MakeoverMonday as an opportunity to not only practice my Tableau skills, but also try new chart types that have sparked my interest and may even take me outside of my comfort zone. Prior to the Week 39 data set being released by Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray, who do such a remarkable job with #MakeoverMonday, I found myself browsing Andy’s blog and came across a Tableau Tip Tuesday post titled How to Create Ranked Dot Plots.

I recalled seeing a #MakeoverMonday submission of a dot plot from Matt Chambers several months earlier. In fact, seeing Matt’s viz was what actually led to me digging into and submitting my first #MakeoverMonday viz the following week. So, after watching Andy’s video, I knew trying a dot plot would be in my near future. To my delight, I would get a chance the very next day! When the data set was released, although it wasn’t a ranked set of data, I felt a dot plot would still work nicely.

The Thought Process

The data set, Restricted Dietary Requirements Around the Globe, was a simple one with 11 different diet types, 5 regions and then percentages of people surveyed from each region who said they followed a given diet. My initial thought was, “Is there a meaningful way to group the diets?” While, I felt there was, I ultimately decided to let them stand alone instead and sorted them from highest overall percentage to lowest.

My two main goals in building this viz were; a) keeping it very clean and free of clutter and b) building it so that no scrolling or filtering was needed. I’m also a big fan of dashboard actions, but managed to resist the temptation this time! I was pleasantly surprised with two font choices I hadn’t used before and once the decision was made to not group the diets, it was a no brainer to put them in the rows and regions in the columns in order to stick to the no scrolling goal. It took awhile to settle on the darker background with black bars, as I tried several different combinations, but none seemed as easy on the eyes as the gray/black combo. As for the dots themselves, the purple has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan, I just thought it looked nice.

What About the Axis?

With the axis set at 100%, but the highest percentage of people dieting being 48% from Africa/Middle East following Halal, the dots seemed too crowded on the left side of the bars. Therefore, I changed the axis from 0%-100% to 0%-50%, labeled the bottom of the first column and added a reference line at 25% (the new mid-point of the bars). While it seemed to work well at spreading the dots out along the bars, it also brought some valuable feedback from Chris Love, that I hadn’t thought of when creating the viz. Chris had initially provided feedback to me on Twitter, but after Andy recreated the viz on his blog, Chris felt it was worth a blog post in reply, due to Andy’s huge following, to point out what he felt was a small best practice failing in the chart.

When it was all said and done, #MakeoverMonday Week 39 was a fun and valuable one! I inspired Andy to recreate a viz he hadn’t built in awhile, received some great feedback from Chris regarding best practices, got my first mention in the #MakeoverMonday blog review written by Andy and Eva and to cap it all off, watched my first #MMVizReview webinar!!

 

The Message That Changed it All

February 6, 2016…this date marks the most important day in my data viz journey. With a little over one-year of Tableau experience under my belt, one thing was certain. I loved the tool!! It made my job much more fun, while making it far easier to do and allowing for plenty of creativity along the way. I was working as part of a demand planning team (of two) that was tasked with transitioning the business unit I worked in, from one that had digested data in spreadsheet form for decades to one that would now leverage the power of data visualization. So, throughout that first year using Tableau, I purchased a couple of books on Amazon.com, watched training videos, and even attended a few Tableau User Group meetings in Minneapolis to learn as much as I could about the tool. And then, after several searches on LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, you name it, I had an idea.

“What if I find somebody who’s really good with Tableau and send them a message asking what steps they took to get to where they are today?” I know, such an amazing, out of the box idea!! But, it scared the hell out of me…what if the person I chose didn’t reply or worse yet, replied, but was unwilling to help me? What would I possibly do then? Could I ever recover from something so horrific? On the afternoon of February 6, 2016 I sent my LinkedIn message to Ryan Sleeper, whom I had identified as the ideal person to contact. Not only were Ryan’s Tableau accomplishments unmatched, but he was also a huge sports fan like myself. So, I figured if nothing else we could chat about how his Kansas City Royals consistently beat the tar out of my Minnesota Twins!! I’m pretty sure my heart stopped momentarily when I clicked the send button, but thankfully my wait was not a long one. Before noon the following day, I had a message from Ryan. A message that would change everything, opening up a Tableau world I had not yet discovered!!

In his message, Ryan wrote about how he would practice using Tableau in his free time, with data of interest to him. He also shared this link of his top five tips to learning Tableau. At the time, I had no idea how important that link would be. #5. Follow the Tableau Community and #1. Tableau Public have been game changers for me, as I haven’t yet taken a training. I have Ryan Sleeper to thank for introducing me to Tableau Public and to the Tableau Community (at least through Twitter). Now to just meet all of these wonderful people in person…unfortunately, TC17 isn’t going to happen for me, but I’m optimistic TC18 will!! Since setting up a Tableau Public profile and joining the Tableau Community through Twitter, I have learned more about Tableau and Data Visualization than I could have ever imagined and I still feel like the surface is just being scratched.

So, if you happen to be reading this today and find yourself in a similar situation to what I was in back in February of 2016, just go ahead and send that message!! The community is full of wonderful people eager to help you and there’s no reason to be hesitant or scared…just click send!!