Data School Week 1- Where to start?

by Laura Peterson

Where do I even begin?

Day 1 at the Data School was exhilarating and overwhelming all at once.  I felt the excitement that comes from doing what you love, combined with moments of mild panic when asked to sketch a viz for a data set, and you have no idea where to start. At the end of the 20-minute exercise, everyone else had something resembling a chart, while I had barely finished drawing the axis.
Luckily we spent most of the week learning the basics of data visualisation, looking at examples of good and bad, and most importantly, answering my question of where do I begin?

Step by step:

Step 1:  Be clear about your intended function and tone.

  • Precise vs. Ambiguous
  • Interactive vs. Static
Step 2: Define your key factors.
Step 3: Dive into your data.
Step 4: Find your story.
Step 5: Imagine/Sketch out how to communicate your story.
Step 6: Create your visualisation in Tableau.
I had been making the rookie mistake of starting at step 3 and found looking at the data without a plan or sense of direction to be overwhelming. It was easy to get stuck in the weeds of the data because I didn’t have any sense of the big picture.
Like the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”