At the DFW Tableau User Group (TUG) holiday party in December, three Tableau experts engaged in a “live data visualization contest” that pitted Teknion’s best data enthusiasts against each other and challenged them to create amazing data visualizations in just 20 minutes.
The high-pressure contest took place in front of a live audience of more than 60 users. The winners received $100, $75, and $50 gift cards – and, of course, they were cheered for being crowned data visualization champions.
The contestants were given a sample data set and were told to create a data visualization based on any angle they wanted. The goal was to tell a story with data. The data was provided only two hours ahead of time, so the contestants could prepare, but the visualization itself had to be created live on the scene. Dan Wouters (from Goodman Networks) was the narrator during the contest.
The visualization contest participants from Teknion were:
- Joshua Milligan, Zen Master and Principal Consultant
- Will Grey, Principal Consultant and Practice Lead
- Preston Howell, Sr. Consultant
The TUG users participated as judges. The judges awarded points based on a number of factors, including visual aesthetics, strength of story and visualization best practices. Here are the considerations when having a Live Data Viz Contest:
- Data set: Chosen by someone not participating in the contest.
- Centered on a topic of general interest.
- Not too large and relatively easy to explore.
- Not too simple so that it has some interesting stories to tell.
- Contestants: 3
- Let contestants see the data for a few minutes before starting the contest (optional).
- Give 20 minutes for contestants to explore the data and build a dashboard to tell a story. They start by opening Tableau and connecting to data.
- Allow use of other data sets and resources from online.
- Rotate presentation of the contestants’ screens throughout the 20 minutes.
- Have someone narrate what they see on the contestants’ screens, but don’t interrupt the contestants ability to work (optional)
- At the end of 20 minutes, give each contestant a minute or two to walk through their dashboard/story.
- Have the audience vote on winner.
- Award prizes to first, second and third-place finishers (optional).
In the end, it wasn’t just a great time at the TUG Holiday party — it was the ultimate battle of Tableau skills and all participants emerged victorious.