Visualizations with Tableau

In studio this week, we tackled making data visualizations with Tableau. We completed a pre-studio tutorial to get comfortable (but not too comfortable) with the software. Then, when it was time for studio, we jumped right in and started going through various Tableau exercises, creating and manipulating visualizations with a Seattle bike rack dataset. We did this in pairs, which was my first experience with pair-programming. Through each exercise, one of us was at the computer, while the other person helped read through the steps and went through the steps with the other on the computer.

My partner and I going through an exercise together

I felt more comfortable being the person at the computer when we did pair programming. My partner wasn’t familiar with Tableau at the beginning of studio and I found it really hard to watch him struggle finding the right tabs and using the right actions/elements. Talking through exercises seemed much slower than simply taking the computer and doing it myself, but it seemed like he learned better by doing the exercises while we talked them out together.

One of the visualizations we created in studio

Reflecting Back

I really liked working with Tableau this week. I think it’s a fantastic tool to create fast but effective data visualizations. The only thing that I struggled with was getting the dashboard to format nicely for each exercise. Especially for the sprint, when we needed so much text in the dashboard, as well as captions, I found it hard to fit everything on the screen in a nice way. I ended up making the dashboard bigger and scrollable so that each visualization was spaced in a readable way. I also had some trouble with uploading and saving my visualizations, but I think that’s a skill that comes with more use.

In the end, I think this week’s focus on data visualizations was extremely helpful. I took a class last quarter learning R programming and we also created visualizations, but they were nowhere near as nice looking as Tableau makes them to be. Additionally, with R, the visualizations we made took hours to put together, even just accessing web API’s themselves took lines on lines of code. Tableau makes visualizations so easy, I can see how they can be extremely helpful in a plethora of design challenges if designers need to get a quick overview of statistics from a certain population or user group. Visualizations are also a great way to present information, especially in design sprints when you’re targeting specific user groups. I look forward to using Tableau more in the future for presentations and analyzing different types of users.

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