Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tableau Sports Data Viz Contest

The winner was announced this afternoon and the winner is not me.  You can check out the winning visualizations here.  Not an unexpected ending to this.  The whole experience however was pretty amazing and I learned a lot from entering the contest.

First I want to thank my friends and coworkers who put up with me bombarding them with the various iterations of my contest entry:  Sarah, Eli, Casey, Charles, Geordie, Erik, Lisa, Tim H., Sara, and of course my wonderful girlfriend Andria.

The responses to my original monster Explore NHL Stats ranged from "amazing", "clean look", "intuitive interface", to "we unleashed a monster", "it's a mish-mash of data", "I can't understand what I am looking at or what you are trying to tell me."  Using some of that feedback allowed me to create a slimmed down version that focused on Plus/Minus and Avg Shifts on Ice.  However, if I had more time, more thought, and less ego I might have been able to create a more effective visualization.

So this is what I learned from this experience:

1.  Less is more.  I should have focused on team stats instead of player stats.  Trying to visualize over 800 points of data is probably best left up to people with more experience than I have at this time.

2.  Data visualizations should be visual!  This should be obvious, however, due to lack of time and the large amount of data I was working with, all my data points were text.  If I had focused on team data I could have created more visually appealing/relevant data points (such as team logos).

3.  Reign in my use of various font sizes.  I realized this after I had submitted it.  I am going to blame this on the fact that I was working on this at the last minute, but who am I kidding. I have had a history of misusing fonts in previous projects.

4.  Less ego.  It isn't about what I think is interesting, what I like to see, or how I like to see it.  I have to be able to see it from viewers point of view and provide them with either new information or a new perspective on existing information.

All of this is obviously common sense.  However, I learn best by doing and learning from mistakes.  Thus, why I decided to do this blog.

So what's next?  Well, I am going to try to publish at least one visualization a week on this blog and Tableau is having another contest featuring government data.  Finally, it appears that there is little to no data visualizations using NHL stats that are featured on Tableau's site.  So my goal will be to get at least one hockey related visualization featured on Tableau's website by the end of the 2011-2012 hockey season.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your work Robb, I enjoyed the Viz!! And an equal amount of congratulations on being so introspective!!

    We rarely learn from our greatest successes; but instead from those things we would have done differently.