Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The story so far...

Three Tableau contests, and over 1000 page views later I thought I would take a moment to review my latest contest entry and put together a data viz using the page view data for my blog.

I first created this blog as a requirement for a Tableau contest, but continued with it as a way to develop my Tableau and data visualization skills.  Since then I entered two more Tableau contests and won one of those -- the Evil Viz contest.  The most recent was the Gov/Public Data contest.  The winner of that contest, Steve Wexler, had a great viz with strong analysis.  He looked at how closing family planning clinics effected STD rates in Texas.  He did a great job demonstrating the impact that budget and policy decisions have on public health.  

What impressed me about his data viz is the county mapping he did.  That is not a feature of Tableau, and something I have put on my list to learn.  So I have downloaded the viz and have started to pick it apart and figure out how he did it so I can possibly use it in a future data viz of my own.

For my contest viz, I chose data from the Energy Information Agency.  Even though I thought the viz turned out okay, the data itself was not very interesting from a visual perspective.  I chose to use icons for the sectors and colors for the source of energy.  I think the icons made it a bit more difficult to see the line.  And the wide variation of the data made it difficult to visualize effectively.  I used percent of total for the size of the icons so the icons on the bottom wouldn't just be a big block of yuck.  However, I think my overall data analysis suffered because of the small icons along the bottom.

While it is fun to enter the contests, I am ultimately blogging to develop my skills.  So I appreciate any feedback I get.  I especially appreciate the feedback I received from a member of the DC Tableau User Group who shared with me his work around for percent of total when you filter.  The Tableau community is a wealth of knowledge for work arounds and tips and tricks to make Tableau do what you want.  I think this is a definite strength of Tableau.

Bottom line, I learned a lot from this latest contest.  I learned from the winning visual and one of the DC User Group members shared a work around with me.  I still need to work on improving my technique for visualizing data that has a wide variance.

I appreciate everyone who has stopped by and taken a look at my blog and stopped to make a comment.  I have no idea if over 1000 page views is a legit milestone or not.  But what the heck.  It is an excuse to for me to put together a data viz.  Blogger is terrible when it comes to letting you access your page view data, so I had to scrape my own dashboard page to get this data to turn it into a viz.

Let me know what you think!

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