This is the fourth in a series of five “you are here” Tableau tutorials. These tips will help improve the user experience of your Tableau dashboards by helping guide your end users. Subscribe here to receive new updates. There is a chart type I’ve been gravitating toward a lot this year, but have struggled to find a documented name for it. The chart consists of dots (or the Circle mark type in Tableau) plotted on a shared axis. I’ve been calling this a dot plot for seemingly obvious reasons, but traditional dot plots in statistics are closer to unit charts, where the mark type would simply be changed from Bar to Circle. My examples are slightly different in that they share one axis, or row of dots, and I usually hide the axis header. Being that this is a plot of dots and only includes the minimum amount of data possible, for now I’m calling this a minimalist dot plot. This chart type has some big benefits. First, it’s the closest I’ve seen to getting to a 100% data-to-ink ratio. It provides comparisons which help avoid the dreaded, “So what?”. Also, by hiding the axis header, the user is forced to focus on the insight of comparing dimension members in relation to each other, rather than the exact numbers. Of course, I provide the exact data points on demand via the tooltip when the user hovers over a circle. The chart type is featured prominently in both my Super Sample Superstore and MLS Standings Reinvented dashboards. In the first, the user is able to choose which region they hypothetically manage, and in the latter, the user can choose their favorite team. In both cases, the dot plots then highlight the selection throughout the dashboard so the user can see where they stand in relation to the others. This post will show you how to make a minimalist dot plot in Tableau and how to highlight a specific dimension member throughout multiple views.
The Odds of Going Pro in Sports viz has generated more questions around how it was created than any other viz I have put together during my career with Tableau. With its one dominant funnel chart and icon-based navigation, the viz tells the story about the share of high school athletes progressing to the college and pro levels across several sports for each gender. The most common question I receive: That was made in Tableau? I would be lying if I said that question doesn’t make me want to stand up a little taller, but the secret is, the viz was one of the easiest dashboards I have ever put together. In fact, I put it together in a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Funnel charts are one of the simplest chart types you can create, but they have proved to be incredibly effective in a corporate setting - think conversion rates and customer flows. Funnel charts are not one of the out-of-the-box “Show Me” options in Tableau, so this post will walk you through multiple approaches to creating funnel charts. First, let’s take a look at the full version of What are the odds of going pro in sports?
Dual-axis combination charts, or combo charts, are named that because they have two axes and they display a combination of different mark types. For example, you can create a visualization that displays a measure with bars on one axis and another measure as lines on the second axis. This is one of my favorite chart types to use in Tableau because the ability to add a second axis, and control the axes independently of each other, unlocks some additional flexibility. This newfound flexibility creates several practical applications that can be used to improve your analysis, user experience, and design. This post will show you how to make a dual-axis combo chart in Tableau as well as three different ways to use them: (1) their traditional use (2) a method for making your end user part of the story and (3) an option for improving the aesthetics of your dashboard.
A chart type with many names… trellis maps, tile maps, or small multiple maps can help you compare measures across multiple maps in one concise view. No matter what you choose to call them, these maps present an effective way to add context to a view without making your end user do additional work. As discussed in the post, How to Make Small Multiples in Tableau, adding context in this manner is a tactic for avoiding the dreaded question, “So what?”. This post will provide two techniques to creating trellis / tile / small multiple maps in Tableau. In the first approach, we will use table calculations to automatically generate a grid for the maps. The formulas are provided so you can create these maps in a matter of seconds. In the second approach, we will use IF / THEN logic to manually generate the grid. This approach gives you complete control over the number of rows and columns in the layout, and which “cell”’ you want each map to appear. I will also share a creative hack for how to add a label to each individual map within the view.
Small multiples are a group of charts or graphs that share the same axes and scales, which allows the user to compare trends across dimensions in a single view. They have been praised for their ability to provide a great deal of context, reducing the need for end users to ask the dreaded, “….So what?”. The term small multiples was popularized by Edward Tufte, who puts it best in his book, Envisioning Information: “At the heart of quantitative reasoning is a single question: Compared to what?” While smaller series of small multiples can work well on an executive summary dashboard, I typically like to use them as a second layer in an analysis. My executive level view, or ‘first layer’, may provide higher level information about a particular measure, such as the overall sales trend and progress towards goal. This is a ‘descriptive’ view of the data answering the question, “What is happening with sales?” From here, I may provide an option to view sales across different dimensions and sub-categories as a series of small multiples in a second layer of the dashboard (often located away from the first view). While small multiples are still a ‘descriptive’ view, it helps answer the question, “Compared to what?”