The 5 Chart Challenge

I recently started mentoring a lovely lady who is really keen to push her Tableau and her data visualisation skills.  I have been providing regular constructive feedback to her about the data visualisations that she is creating as part of the #MakeoverMonday initiative. During our catch ups we also agreed that I would set her some additional challenges which would support her identified development needs.

I then spent a few days scratching my head trying to think of a challenge for her! So I grabbed my copy of the Storytelling with Data Let’s Practice book (by Cole Knaflic) for some inspiration. An idea popped into my head about creating 5 charts for exactly the same data analysis, to see if this would help to make us think harder about chart choice. I sounded out my mentee to see what she thought, and she was well up for the challenge.

The challenge:

  • Take one set of trend data; use week 31 data from the #makeovermonday initiative – looking just at the data by year.
  • Create 5 different charts to visualise the data and tell the story that you find within the data
  • Review each chart; what works well for this analysis (pros and cons)
  • Pick your favourite visualisation from the 5  – which do you feel works the best to visualise the story

As I didn’t know if the 5 chart challenge was even a useful one I decided to complete the challenge myself. I was really surprised (and pleased!) that actually it was a great process for choosing the right visualisation and it really pushed me to consider which chart was best for the analysis and the story I wished to visualise. It was actually quite hard to find 5 good ways of presenting this and I had to do a bit of googling for inspiration. I would usually only look at a couple of options. This process gave me the opportunity to use charts that aren’t my ‘go to’ chart options, and discover the benefits of other charts. This will be really useful in the future when I come to present similar data and support others with their presentation.

The challenge also required reviewing each chart and this was also a useful process to run through; I had to really think about why they did or didn’t work, and explain this in my viz. Reflection is such an important part of personal development.

Check out the results of the challenge on my tableau public page:!/vizhome/5ChartChallenge/5chartchallenge

I met back up with my mentee (virtually obviously..) to see how she got on. She also really enjoyed the challenge, and again similar to me felt that it was a great process to run through to help identify the right visualisation for the intended job. She said that if she had done this prior to her original makeovermonday visualisation she would have chosen a different chart! Perfect!! I think this means the challenge has done its job!

I am really pleased that this process has had a positive outcome for both of us, so I was keen to share this with you and encourage anyone to try it out. Doesn’t have to be this data, try it next time you come to visualise something. Let me know how you get on! Use the #5ChartChallenge hashtag on twitter and I will keep an eye out for these or contact me through this site.

Thanks for reading my blog.


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