Think about the users journey…

After attending a few Tableau User Groups and speaking to the community I always wanted to see what everyone’s ‘best practices’ were, what are the routes people take to get to the end viz? After attempting to complete a #WorkoutWednesday it became known that myself and Charlie go about some vizzes the same way in getting to the end result. It was rather spooky, relate-able, great minds think a like moment with how close both our blogs were. Therefore, here is my thought process…

When I am handed a requirements request I like to draw out ideas in my head or on the nearest scrap piece of paper I can find. This helps the requester understand what it will look like and give the full picture to work too for myself. It could range from 4 – 6 boxes built up of line and bar charts. It lets the requester say ‘No I’d like the line graph on the left, the bar at the top’ etc. It helps them as much as me; requirement gathers are by far one of the best part in this journey.

Here is some rough pictures I have used before…

When I get to the data side, I go through to understand what measure and dimensions I will have to play with and ask myself the following questions:

  • What makes up the column names?
  • What does half of these columns mean – I do not know everything that goes through my work place so it is okay to ask questions.
  • What date fields are we having to take in to consideration?
  • Do I need to add many calculations or are they already there built in the data source?
  • Do I need to rename any fields to make it easier?
  • How many rows are there?
  • What is the end goal?
  • What is it they want to see but cannot explain in words?

This starts to build up a picture of what I am about to work with – sometimes it is going down a rabbit hole and you have no idea but, if you think of questions to ask yourself you can be pretty prepared for it.

It is important to keep the data story you are creating efficient and to make sense to yourself as well as the end users. Keep the data points away from being over complicated, use tool-tips to the max to help understand, make the titles of the charts dynamic so when you have a filter or parameter selected they all change – like magic! It might seem small having dynamic titles but I always get great feedback on this and it helps remind what you are looking at. I am always told to think about the user’s journey. Not everyone can understand a cross tab full of figures and names, so we need to turn these multiple rows into a story so the users can easily understand and identity their data to make decisions on the fly.

Now, if I have to work backwards from a viz on #MakeoverMonday or a dashboard that I see and want to recreated, then I try to reverse engineer. As mentioned previously I carry my Tableau Bible everywhere with me and this is built up of pages full of calculations that I will not always remember. It is a great reference point; yes maybe a little old-fashioned hand writing them out.

If this ever got set on fire, I would be in trouble.

Reverse engineering now is my favourite way to learn new things in Tableau, and exploring different data sets. You get the moment of ‘who knew that could happen’. Learning from others is a great way to learn and pick up new tricks whether that’s blogs, videos, networking or trial and error.

Thanks for reading a small snip-it of how I get to my end Viz.

4 thoughts on “Think about the users journey…

  1. The end user “issue” is one we face a lot at work. We find that people accustomed to a world of Excel aren’t easily able to break away from thinking within those confines when trying to spec out what they want.

    We adopted a similar approach to you and have asked “customers” to sketch out a storyboard of what they would like to see, and how they would like the dashboards to flow. That’s proving a tricky concept for some, so we are needing to iterate and find that people often say “Well I saw this dashboard you’d published, and we really like how that filter does that, and how x leads onto y”.

    It’s definitely a voyage of discovery for end users and dashboard creator alike.


    1. Great post Becca! I am two days into a brand new job developing dashboards and already the key concept discussed has been to think about the users’ journey – you’ve got it in a nutshell! (Is that a phrase??)

      I learn more from posts like this which I can read and learn from straight away than technical posts and explanations (which I tend to bookmark away for future reference). Keep it up!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks Charlie! What I tend to do with the Excel battle is make a replica as close to the file as possible on a dashboard alongside the snazzy dashboard that I think would better suit and then let them visually see the difference as well as showing the new interactions and functions they get without Excel. I’ve always had the snazzy one picked – the off chance I get a user who just wants a cross tab.

      That’s great that you get your customers to sketch their own ideas out, I sometimes get stuck with this because they don’t know what they want.

      Agreed – ‘voyage of discovery’. I like that


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