Thank you for your support in 2018. This time of year is always a time of reflection for me, and one consistent theme I’m grateful for - and which I’ve come to realize is the single biggest-driving force behind my career - is you: the community. Your support has not only inspired me, it has made it possible for me to grow personally. You have forced me to sharpen my skills by teaching and challenged me to provide better solutions. So Thank You. Each year, I ask how could the next possibly be better, but 2018 included more huge updates: (1) I rebranded my analytics consulting agency, Ryan Sleeper LLC, to Playfair Data, (2) we launched Playfair Data TV, a premium online Tableau video training resource, (3) my book Practical Tableau was published, and (4) I had the opportunity to speak at 8 Tableau user groups across the US, Canada, and England. And, of course, I released more content! 41 blog posts and 50 videos to be exact. As a small token of my appreciation, I’m sharing my top ten posts and some statistics from my blog. My hope is that this content helps you in your Tableau journey, and that my observations provide some insight into the current state of the Tableau / analytics community. I’ll close the post by previewing even more announcements coming in 2019.
This 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.
This 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.
This 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.
Tableau 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.