Makeover Monday, 2017 #33

Earlier this year the pudding published an excellent analysis into the myth that various events were a trigger for mini baby booms. The analysis was based on CDC data on natality in America. Fast forward to August and the data set was selected by Andy for week 33 of Makeover Monday.

Instead of the usual makeover I tried to look for a different angle in the data set; after all visually exploring data and finding the stories is one of the strengths of Tableau right? Like a few other participants the variations in the mothers average age and average baby weight at birth intrigued me. My first thought was that I’d made a mess of averaging as we were provided with pre-aggregated data at county level not state level. Luckily we have the number of births so can calculate a weighted average to use at state level:


If you’re not sure what’s going on here then check out Charlie Hutcheson’s blog and his link to Andy’s article on averages of averages.

I’ve focussed on weight at birth in my viz, highlighting the states with the highest and lowest average over the whole period (check out the LOD calculation and accompanying ranking table calculation if interested … oh and if you can tell me how to calculate a sortable column based on the rank so that I can programmatically ensure that the highest and lowest lines always sit on top then I’d love to hear how as I ended up fudging that bit!).

To encourage engagement I’ve also added the ability to choose a state to highlight, so that US users can see where their state sits.

Here is the finished viz:


The viz is also available on Tableau Public here.

One final comment – why did I make the viz so small?

Well, I’ve been trying smaller charts and dashboards a lot with Makeover Monday. There are a couple of reasons for this. The initial reason was to make them more mobile friendly as we all consume so much of our content on smart phones these days. I find it frustrating when I see a cool viz in my twitter feed, go to interact with it on my phone and can’t really engage.

A secondary reason, which I’m mulling over as a good piece of advice, is that small =  less space for clutter = you have to really work to simplify and distil your story to the key points. We often see advice from Andy and Eva in their weekly write ups to keep things simple – e.g. don’t just chuck several graphs at a dashboard and call it a day. If you suffer from this then perhaps aiming for smaller and smaller dashboards each week would be a good learning exercise?

Of course there’s a point where things just don’t suit a small screen, or get oversimplified, or the author just makes the font smaller to make things fit! Have I done that this week? It’d be great to get your thoughts back on Twitter.