2020 - Year in Review
This is a long post so feel free to use the links below to jump to certain sections.
- Published 76 visualisations on Tableau Public
- 1x Viz of the Day
- Presented at a virtual Healthcare Tableau User Group
- Started a blog
- Completed all 52 Makeover Mondays
- 4x Project Health Viz
- 4x The SDG Viz Project
- 1x Workout Wednesday
- 1x Iron Quest
- 2x Vizzies nominations (Notable Newbie and Biggest Growth)
How it started
I started using Tableau around 2016 whilst working as a consultant in financial services. It was version 9.2 and I used it on-and-off depending on the project. In 2019, following a conversation with one of my colleagues I considered getting more serious with Tableau Public and started publishing vizzes through participating in Makeover Monday.
Viz of the Day
I had one Viz of the Day on Tableau Public which was my Forbes Highest Paid Athletes (1990-2019) viz.
Tableau animations had just been released in the latest update and I had recalled seeing a bar chart race done in Flourish which I recreated in Tableau. Upon seeing it as VOTD I fist pumped the air, as you do.
Healthcare Tableau User Group (TUG)
After publishing the Teladoc Health dashboard as part of #ProjectHealthViz, I was invited by Zen Master Lindsay Betzendahl to speak at a virtual Healthcare TUG.
It was great to be approached and it was an enjoyable experience, presenting alongside some great speakers and speaking about how I built the dashboard to hundreds of people.
You can watch the recording here.
My only viz-related goal for 2020 was to complete all 52 Makeover Mondays and I'm glad I was able to do so. I mainly used this as a means to try different design styles, experiment with Tableau functionality and try different chart types.
I'm not gonna lie, at times it was a slog. I took several breaks and played catch-up but can now look back and appreciate the community initiative a little bit more, as well as the time investment from Andy Kriebel, Eva Murray and Charlie Hutcheson for keeping this initiative going.
By far, my favourite topics were the ones relating to #Viz5, a collaboration between Operation Fistula and Makeover Monday to visualise gender equality. A serious topic and one I took more care in designing a viz for.
On some reflection, I could have spent more time refining my storytelling and analytical skills rather than focusing on design or different chart types. I often found myself going back to vizzes to correct a bit of detail I had earlier missed.
I would recommend Makeover Monday as an initiative to anyone looking to get started/better at data viz for the following reasons:
- You are given a clean dataset each week, with an accompanying article and sample viz
- You can view other people's submissions on Twitter (#MakeoverMonday) or data.world for inspiration
- You can request feedback from the #MMVizReview or through the community #datafamfeedback
- There is a weekly viz review webinar
- There is a weekly round-up, now on YouTube
- You can watch Zen Master Andy Kriebel viz live on YouTube once a week
- People in the community may post blogs with the steps they took to create their visualisations
- You can experiment with different visualisations, design styles, etc.
Here are some of my favourites from this year.
40 Years in Music Industry Sales
I blogged about this here.
Operation Fistula - FGM in Tanzania
I blogged about this here.
Comparing common mental disorder by sex.
This was one of my personal favourites. Penguins!
Women in Power
The Digital Gender Divide
My tips for those getting started
- Have a goal
- Are you looking to get better at storytelling? Are you looking to better understand Tableau's functionality? Are you looking to experiment with different designs or chart types?
- Don't be afraid to request feedback or adopt feedback given to others.
- Don't be afraid to experiment with different design styles, chart types, etc. Just use your judgement/common sense when applying anything in a business environment.
- Understand context
- Don't understand a topic, i.e. sports? Google it or ask. Also don't assume currency is always going to be in your native currency.
- Try something new
- Understand fundamentals before design
- You don't have to visualise everything
- It's perfectly OK to pick an aspect of the data and focus on that.
- Credit people as inspiration
- If you take inspiration from other people's work, use their tutorials, etc., credit them as inspiration.
- Don't worry if you skip a few weeks
- It's always good to have a break and see what other people had posted to get more inspiration.
Data Viz Trends
Everyone loves a good trend, here are some that I took part in.
I jumped on the voronoi treemap trend using the generator provided by Tristan Guillevin. Whilst the visualisations looked cool, I clearly didn't understand the reasons to use a voronoi chart. I have a better understanding now...
The use of design tools to enhance vizzes isn't a new concept. I was a big fan of Kasia Gasiewska-Holc's work and the use of design tools such as Illustrator and Figma became more popular again this year, chiefly driven, I thought, by Judit Bekker. A combination using of Pinterest for design inspiration and Figma to create backgrounds has become a regular habit for me when building vizzes. I am no expert in design, but I enjoyed trying.
I quite liked using neumorphism in my vizzes, such as the Google Community Mobility Report viz below. It was nice for this viz to be featured on Chart Chat Round 13.
Throughout the year I also engaged in other initiatives such as Project Health Viz, The SDG Viz Project, Workout Wednesday and Iron Quest. These were great as they either provided technical challenges or provided an opportunity explore, visualise and raise awareness on more serious topics - though I wasn't able to maintain regular participation throughout the year.
It wasn't all just community initiatives. I had a chance to create some individual vizzes too.
London COVID-19 dashboard
With COVID-19 cases rising, I created a simple dashboard for cases in London. It was nice to see it being featured on Tableau's COVID-19 Viz Gallery and briefly at the Tableau Conference-ish later in the year. Though I stopped updating it as the data at the time from gov.uk wasn't great.
Football Manager Spend
I saw a news article that talked about three managers exceeding £1bn in spend on football transfers, which inspired the below.
I made this for a colleague after a convo in a work WhatsApp group. Was fun!
Premier League Transfer History
I used a marimekko chart which I animated.
My final viz of the year was a daily mood tracker. At the start of 2020 I saw several posts on /r/dataisbeautiful from people who tracked their mood in 2019, so I decided to track mine as well in 2020.
Did I enjoy data viz in 2020? Yes and No...
Yes, because I got to try new things in Tableau that I wouldn't do at work. Different design styles, using tools like Figma, visualising different datasets outside of financial services, etc. It was great to get a VOTD, present at a virtual TUG, be nominated for two Vizzie Awards and to see my work get credited as inspiration in other people's work. I also enjoyed responding to people who reached out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn asking for Tableau/data viz advice - most were looking to start their data viz journey and one was a [successful] Data School applicant.
No, because I don't feel I've received much recognition for my work. It can sometimes be discouraging to see multiple VOTD's attributed to the same pool of authors, or be overlooked amongst other forms of recognition from Tableau/Tableau Public. I guess that was how I wanted to measure recognition and it's fair to say managing one's own expectations is needed. Throughout the year I saw people share similar views and I'm sure many others do too, albeit silently.
Looking back at some of my work, have I become better at using Tableau? Probably not, or just a little. I ended up focusing more on design rather than getting to know Tableau's new functionality better. The latter would have been more beneficial in a business environment, the former not so much.
I don't intend to publish much on Tableau Public this year, possibly a few select topics from community initiatives or some original content. Instead, I'll likely take steps to get better equipped with Power BI and Python.
For Power BI, I'm looking forward to seeing the new Workout Wednesday challenges. Having existing Tableau vizzes means I can try and recreate them in Power BI whilst trying to learn its functionality.
For Python, I've started learning [very slowly!] from a book called Automate the Boring Stuff with Python.
Thanks for reading.