A Short Story of a Viz That Was Almost Not
Have you ever started a visualisation and half-way through decided it was not worth it or good enough?
What happened after that? … Did you pursue the idea and finished it or simply gave up?
This week’s #MakeoverMonday dataset presented a challenge to me. Not because I didn’t like the dataset but mainly because I found myself in a position where I started my visualization and after three days and many different options, I still haven’t found what I wanted to show.
Let’s go back a week ago, Mark Bradbourne posted this viz about how much money the most profitable companies make per second. Must admit that was love at first sight, the jump chart, its simplicity and great use of colours against the dark background really caught my attention. I did what I usually do, downloaded the workbook and started tearing apart bit by bit, trying to understand how every jump worked. I replicated it, created my own version and this week, when Eva Murray published the MakeoverMonday dataset about Basball Demographics as part of Black History Month, I decided to use what I have learned from Mark’s visualization.
Replicate is not the same as create your own
One thing is to download a viz and reverse engineer how it was done and another thing is to apply the same technique on a complete different dataset. So, it popped the following question:
Is there a specific type of graph for every dataset?
Well, it depends! – Listening to Cole’s podcast of this week, she answers similar questions with “it depends” … and it truly does!
By Wednesday, most of the vizzes published for this week’s #MakeoverMonday showed lines and timelines with percentages for every year and how diverse (or not) Baseball Major League was and have been. I also decided to do lines and timeline … but my lines were different.
Try, iterate, ask for feedback
I tried several different ways of visualizing the dataset always based on the same idea of using Mark’s jump chart but none of them worked fine. Here are some examples of my first attempts:
Was I forcing the situation of using a specific type of chart where the dataset was not good for it? (or the other way around!) – I asked myself the question many times, such is that by Wednesday evening, this is what the viz looked like:
So I asked for help!
I asked my wife Lorena and her sharp design eye to give me some feedback. She liked it but wasn’t sure it was the right type of chart to tell the story but still we looked at ways to improve it and how it will help deliver the message.
I asked Mark Edwards for feedback … Mark is always honest and has a great eye to spot my mistakes on every viz so, he’s always a great and trustworthy point of reference. He liked it and encouraged me to finish it and publish it. Gave me some good tips as well that were then incorporated in the viz.
I asked young guru Hugo … great positive feedback and encouragement to finish it too.
My #LondonTUG co-leaders also liked it so by the end of Wednesday and almost onto Thursday, I had made up my mind not to give up on my viz.
The following morning things may look different
That’s exactly what happened. Woke up early the following day and all the ideas came flowing to my mind. My wife’s design suggestions and Mark’s feedback came straight on … it was vizzing time!
Always consider asking for feedback, never be afraid to do it. I have learned so much from good and positive criticism that I always ask people to look at my vizzes before publishing them. If they can understand the message you are trying to convey, then you are good to go !
1- Download and learn from others
I always appreciate when Tableau Public authors allow their works to be downloaded. It’s a great way for others to learn and improve their visualization skills. Be generous, allow others to download your work, be a source of inspiration!
2- Persist and don’t give up
Am I using the right type of chart? – It depends! – If you think persisting on something you are doing helps you learn and develop your skills, then that’s definitely a win-win !
3- Ask for feedback
The Tableau community is perhaps one of the most amazing ones and if you ever need help or feedback, just shout, don’t be shy. You’ll be amazed to see how many people will give you a hand!
OK, without further ado, here is my #MakeoverMonday visualisation for this week … don’t be shy, you got this far reading the story, please leave your feedback in a comment at the bottom of the post !