Spring is in the air (and your viz)

Welcome to my new blog and my first post in this new digital space!

Things are warming up in London and it’s happening fast. So fast that I’m still finding myself walking out in the sunshine wearing my full-on winter coat, wool scarf, and fleece boots. I’ll admit, my core temperature tends to err on the side of Arctic (I like to tell people I’m a failed Canadian due to my constant chilliness), but even I’m feeling goofy walking out in the heat looking like I’m stuck in January. So my solution this weekend was to do some hardcore spring cleaning, which gave me an opportunity to tidy up for a more weather-appropriate closet. It also gave me some good motivation to get this blog up and running, and the inspiration for this first post!

One thing that people sometimes neglect when finalising their dashboards is cleaning up their space. I get it, it can be tempting to fire off a viz into publication after spending hours creating your masterpiece and building up all the anticipation to show people what you’ve done. However, doing just a couple of quick clean ups can optimise how you present your creation so people read your data’s message loud and clear.

So here are 5 tips to spring clean your workbooks and present a polished viz

1.) Delete unused calculations

I’ve often come across workbooks with a ton of calculations crowing up the measures pane, but only one or two actually being used in the view. If your intention is to just showcase your finalised dashboard, then this isn’t too big of an issue. However, if you want to give folks the opportunity to explore your workbook on a deeper level and understand the skill that went on in the background, it’s a lot easier when your calculations are cleaned up.

A quick and easy way to do this is to click on the carrot next to the dimensions pane, and click “Hide all unused fields”

Another way is to just try and delete the calculation. If it’s being used in one of your views, Tableau will spit out a warning. If it’s not, the calculation will just be deleted and your viz will remain the same.

2.) Delete unused sheets and hide everything else 

I find that when I’m constructing my vizzes, I often create multiple sheets to test out different ways to represent the data and see what works best for what I want to communicate. This is great for the creative brain process, but not so great if you want to keep things tidy. If you want to keep your sheets to document your creative process, put them all in a new dashboard and then you can hide them with the other sheets used in your finalised dashboard. Hiding sheets is as easy as right clicking on your dashboard tab at the bottom, and clicking Hide all sheets.

Sometimes people like to colour code their sheets at the bottom, which is a great way to keep yourself organised while you’re working away, but it ends up being distracting when it’s the first thing people see when they open up your workbook. Don’t keep these open in your finalised view, hide them as well.

3.) Delete unused data sources

This is not just a visual tidying up, it can also help optimise how your workbook loads up. If you added a data source while you were building things but then decided not to use it, delete it! Just right click on the name of the data source you want to remove, and select Close.

4.) Give everything names that make sense

This is particularly important for your calculated fields. Make sure they are descriptive. This is for your benefit as much as it is for your audience as well. It’s a pain trying to drop a calculation in your view when you’re not sure if it was calculation23 or calculation54. Name them!

Also name your worksheets so you know how to reference them when building your dashboard, and so your audience knows how to reference them. I don’t typically rename my dashboards, but if they’re going on Tableau Public the dashboard name will be used in the URL that is built, so it’s sometimes nice to have control in how that URL will be written.

5.) Leave your tooltips for last

Always format your tooltips as a last step. This is because if you are dragging pills on and off while building your views, it will affect your tooltips. You want everything to be consistent, and you don’t want any weird or wonky things being written in your tooltips.

4 thoughts on “Spring is in the air (and your viz)”

  1. Hey Nai…Good Post. Are planing for any ‘How to’ tableau visualization posts? Also can you share with us the path of some of the data sets you used in your worksheets. Thanks!


    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes I will be doing more how to posts, I’ve got one lined up for how to do last and prior calculations that I’ll hopefully be posting soon. I know I haven’t been too good with sharing data sources but I’ll definitely be improving on that and sharing them on this blog


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