About Ryan Sleeper

Ryan Sleeper is founder and principal of Playfair Data. He is a data visualization designer, author, speaker, trainer, and consultant specializing in Tableau. Ryan is a current Tableau Zen Master, 2013 Tableau Iron Viz Champion, author of the 2015 Tableau Public Visualization of the Year, and author of Practical Tableau (O'Reilly).

Dashboard Gauge 3: 2 Ways to Map a Custom Background Image in Tableau

How to Make Custom Gauges with Background Images in Tableau FeatureThis is the third in a five-part series on dashboard gauges in Tableau. For future updates, subscribe to my mailing list. To this point in the series, I’ve shown you my favorite type of gauge with bullet graphs and a way to round gauges when your primary objective is to track progress to 100%. In the next example, I will show you how to make a gauge with any image. I learned this trick from Lindsey Poulter in her visualization, Best States to Raise Children. Downloading Tableau Public visualizations and reverse engineering them is one of the best ways to pick up new techniques. In the visualization, Lindsey draws an arrow over a custom sequential color palette to communicate performance across five different categories. In this post, I’ll show you how to make a gauge out of a custom background image for a company that is interested in viewing individual responses to a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. The following approach is useful any time you want to customize how a gauge looks with the image of your choosing.

By | 2018-12-11T13:45:42+00:00 December 11th, 2018|Tableau Chart Types, Tableau Tips|

Dashboard Gauge 2: How to Make Rounded Bars and Scales in Tableau

How to Make Rounded Gauges in Tableau FeatureThis is the second in a five-part series on dashboard gauges in Tableau. For future updates, subscribe to our mailing list. While bullet graphs are the optimal type of ‘gauge’ in Tableau because of their efficient use of space and their ability to show values past 100%, there are other engaging ways to display the progress toward a goal or prior period. If your primary objective is to communicate how much progress you’ve made toward hitting the 100% mark, and you don’t mind not seeing performance past the goal, you can stop the scale at 100%. This lends itself to some interesting design possibilities including the oft-maligned, donut chart. Donut charts are criticized for inefficiently using dashboard real estate, stopping at 100%, and making it difficult for users to accurately assess progress to goal. This post will show you how to essentially flatten out a donut chart, which will solve two of these three deficiencies. Plus, I will show you a hack that allows you to round bars and the background scales. This is not an out-the-box design in Tableau, but I think it adds a touch of engagement to gauges.

By | 2018-12-06T00:45:20+00:00 December 4th, 2018|Tableau Chart Types|

Dashboard Gauge 1: How to Make Bullet Graphs in Tableau

How to Make Bullet Graphs FeatureThis is the first in a five-part series on dashboard gauges in Tableau. For future updates, subscribe to my mailing list. Speedometer-like dashboard gauges that show an arrow moving across a semi-circle consume an unnecessarily large amount of valuable real estate and are not ideal for communicating or interpreting magnitude. This series aims to provide five alternative dashboard gauges to help illustrate comparisons to prior periods or goals. I feel legally obligated to start the series off with Stephen Few’s, bullet graphs, as he really helped pioneer the idea of making gauges more streamlined and effective. Bullet graphs build onto bar charts and provide context in the form of lines and shading that represent a comparison point. They work well because they make an efficient use of space, leverage the preattentive attribute of length, and can illustrate comparisons beyond 100% (i.e. 20% above goal). This post and video will show you two different ways to make bullet graphs in Tableau.

By | 2018-11-26T14:09:36+00:00 November 26th, 2018|Tableau Chart Types|

How to Use Tableau Set Actions to Compare the Top N vs Other

How to Use Tableau Set Actions to Compare the Top N vs Other FeatureTableau set actions are a new (as of version 2018.3) type of dashboard action that will unlock new user experiences by allowing you to dynamically control which dimension members are included in a set. Some of my favorites that have already been figured out include How to Highlight with Color by Matt Chambers, How to Change Dimensions by Lindsey Poulter,  How to Make a Cross-Highlight by Rody Zakovich, and How to Drilldown in a Single Sheet by Ann Jackson, just to name a few. A general thread that I’ve noticed between the innovative applications of set actions is they’re often used to make existing dashboards and tutorials better, and I am no exception. I’ve shown you before how to dynamically group the top N vs everything else using a parameter. This is a user experience I like because it reduces the cognitive load on my end user, making it easier for them to consume the view. In this post, I will make this experience even better by using set actions to allow my end user to choose the top N by simply clicking on the dimension members on a chart.

By | 2018-11-13T14:37:48+00:00 November 13th, 2018|Tableau Tips|

How to Use Tableau’s Parameter Actions Extension to Change Date Parts

How to Use Tableaus Parameter Actions Extension to Change Date Parts FeatureOne of the features announced at Tableau Conference 2018 that I am most excited about is parameter actions. This feature will unlock a lot of flexibility that will provide better opportunities to design your user experiences and transfer control of an analysis from yourself to your end users. But did you know this feature is already available in the form of a Tableau dashboard extension called Parameter Actions? In this post, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite ways to improve the user experience of a line graph by allowing users to choose which date part, or granularity, is being visualized (i.e. day, week, month, year). Then we’ll make that user experience even better by using Tableau’s Parameter Actions extension, which is available as of Tableau Desktop 2018.2. The dashboard extension will allow us to create a seamless, web-like experience that will allow our end users to change a date part by simply clicking on a letter!

By | 2018-11-07T14:37:54+00:00 November 5th, 2018|Tableau Tips|