Communicating data-driven insights
through data visualization techniques
and useful dashboards
Tableau Desktop to practice
Practice: build a simple dashboard with online marketing campaign data
There is a strong relationship between the form of the data (the attribute/variable and dataset types) and what kinds of vis[ualization] idioms are effective at displaying it. (…) Don’t just draw what you are given; decide what the right thing to show is, create it with a series of transformations from the original database, and draw that!
Download and open
data.xls: fake data for online marketing goals and tools
from Google Drive or
See the subtle blue/green colour of the variable type icon? Take notice, it is important:
Understanding the difference between the blue and green items in Tableau is (IMHO) the single most important piece of understanding necessary to make Tableau function well.
Practice: explore dimensions, measures and graph types in Tableau
A question of time
Spatial and time/hour variables are special variable types. Time variables are specially complex:
Time may be used as a continuous or as a qualitative variable.
Understanding marks and channels provides the building blocks for analyzing visual encodings (Munzner 2014, p.95)
A mark is a basic graphical element in an image
A visual channel is a way to control the appearance of marks
One and only one attribute/variable should be used per channel.
Multiple channels per attribute are possible (redundant encoding), but this approach has limitations.
The size and shape channels cannot be used on all types of marks, but most combinations are still possible:
Two kinds of sensory modalities:
It does not make sense to ask magnitude questions for shape, color hue. We can ask about magnitudes with length, area or volume; color luminance or saturation; and angle/tilt/slope.
All channels are not equal.
The selection of marks and channels should be guided by the principles of expressivenes and effectiveness.
Once the most important attributes/variables for the desired insight have been identified, the selection of marks and channels should ensure that they are encoded with the highest ranked.
The choice of which attributes/variables to encode with position is the most central choice in visual encoding.
How can we enable easier insight through data visualization?
Practice: build (not so) basic graphs
Data-ink is the non-erasable core of the graphic, the non-redundant ink arranged in response to variation in the numbers represented.
More on decluttering:
Through preattentive attributes:
Practice: layout and format graphs into a dashboard
Visual display of the most information needed to achieve one or more objectives which fits entirely on a single computer screen so it can be monitored at a glance.
From previous section:
In other words:
Dashboards in Tableau are containers of sheets of graphs.
Allow for quite basic but functional formatting.
Some degree of interactivity with
Actions: highlight and filter
Abela, Andrew (2006). Choosing a good chart.
Few, Stephen (2009). Dashboard Design for Real-Time Situation Awareness [White Paper]
— (2013). Information Dashboard Design. Analytics Press:
316.763 F 44 s
Kirk, Andy (2016). Data Visualisation: A Handbook for Data Driven Design. SAGE: London
316.763 K 63 a
Munzner, Tamara (2015). Visualization Analysis and Design. CRC Press: Boca Raton, Florida
316.763 M 92 t
Tufte, Edward R. (1983). The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press: California
316.763 T 87 e
This presentation is available at
Copyright © 2018 University of Deusto
This work (except for the quoted images, whose rights are reserved to their owners) is licensed under the Creative Commons “Attribution-ShareAlike” License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/