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  • MARK CONNOLLY

Which Tableau Show Me Is The Best?

Updated: May 25

I'm officially at the stage of our stay at home order where I've started ranking things. First up - the Tableau Show Me options. The Tableau Show Me's are a hot button topic for many but today we get some clarity on which is truly the best. No emotion, just qualitative data and ranking.


Don't have a favorite Tableau Show Me? Take this quiz to find out which one you are!

Now that you have a Show Me to root for - let's get into the ranking!


How did I rank the Show Me's?


The 24 different Show Me's were graded across 5 different categories with each category receiving a point total between 1-5. These 5 different categories were then totaled up, meaning the highest possible score an individual Show Me could get was 25 points.


The categories for ranking included:


A. Frequency of Use

How often do we see these used? This category rewards the steady, old, reliable Show Me options we all know and love for being so dependable.


B. Ease of Use

How much Tableau know-how does it take to get this Show Me up and running correctly? Do you need multiple dimensions, measures, field types to make it work or is it a simple drag and drop to visualization? This rewards the quick easy viz.


C. Speed of Interpretation

How quickly does someone seeing this Show Me for the first time in a dashboard get to the key take-away or insight? This assumed the foundational use of the Show Me without adding many different customizations.


D. Preventing Misinterpretation

Sure speed of interpretation is great, but how likely is it that this Show Me will cause someone to walk away with the wrong message? This rewards the Show Me's that limit misinterpretation in our dashboards.


E. Wow Factor

Simply put, when this Show Me is utilized correctly - does it just make your dashboard pop? Is it the thing that everyone starts asking for? You just know it when you see it.


All categories assume basic use of the Show Me without added features like table calculations, viz in tooltip, or actions. In the event of a tie after all points were to be totaled, I made the preliminary decision that ranking was going to then determined by Wow Factor, then Prevent Misinterpretation, then Speed of Interpretation, then Ease of Use, and then finally Frequency of Use.


With the paperwork out of the way...


Let's get to the Show Me rankings - worst to first!



24. Pie Charts





No Cinderella story here.


Total Points: 9

Frequency of Use: 3

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 1

Preventing Misinterpretation: 1

Wow Factor: 1


23. Side-By-Side Circles





To be honest, I forgot these were even an option on Show Me.

Total Points: 10

Frequency of Use: 1

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 2

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 2

22. Gantt




They look cool but require a lot of interacting and playing around to get right.

Total Points: 10

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 2

Speed of Interpretation: 1

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 3

21. Heat Maps



I used the term heat map for a while when I first started with Tableau before realizing I actually meant the highlight map - the older more successful brother of the heat map.


Total Points: 13

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 2

20. Box-and-Whisker


Brush up on your stats, exam is in 20.


Total Points: 13

Frequency of Use: 3

Ease of Use: 2

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 2

19. Area (Discrete)




The first of the Discrete family, second cousins of the Continuous family.

Total Points: 13

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 3

18. Packed Bubbles



They look more fun than pie charts but still take a bit to still figure out which each bubble is actually showing.


Total Points: 13

Frequency of Use: 1

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 2

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 3

17. Histogram



The trouble is convincing people how important these are.


Total Points: 14

Frequency of Use: 3

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 1

16. Lines (Discrete)



Next up in the discrete family - lines. The problem here is you have to be careful which dimensions are going where.


Total Points: 14

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 2

15. Area (Continuous)




Maybe it's just me but unless there's an obvious dimension driving a measure, area charts take time to digest.


Total Points: 14

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 3

14. Dual Combination




Love me some bar graphs paired up with lines. Just like... which axis is which pointed to again?


Total Points: 14

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 2

Speed of Interpretation: 1

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 4

13. Circle Views



Doesn't wow me, but it's an easy way to show something is ahead of another something when it comes to something.


Total Points: 15

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 2

12. Side-By-Side Bars



This one was actually completely tied with Circle Views, I just like it better and made a personal call to put it at number 12.


Total Points: 15

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 2

11. Tree Maps




I have no clue where the term Tree Map comes from but damn do I love these when they're done right.


Total Points: 15

Frequency of Use: 2

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 4

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 3

10. Symbol Maps




These are more valuable than the typical Map but take some time and introduce plenty of opportunities for missteps.


Total Points: 15

Frequency of Use: 3

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 4

9. Highlight Maps




Color gets the square.


Total Points: 16

Frequency of Use: 3

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 4

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 2

8. Dual Lines




Profit and Sales - show me both over time. Rinse and repeat.


Total Points: 16

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 3

7. Scatter Plots




Want a crash course on dimensions and level of detail?


Total Points: 16

Frequency of Use: 4

Ease of Use: 3

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 3

6. Bullet Graphs


These look cool, provide benchmarks and current performance making everyone happy. Well... except that analyst who couldn't figure out why the reference line is actually the performance now.


Total Points: 16

Frequency of Use: 4

Ease of Use: 2

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 3

Wow Factor: 4

5. Text Tables



This one shocked me by making it to the top 5. It's boring and takes a while to get to insight but everyone uses and asks for these still - let's not pretend they've gone away.


Total Points: 17

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 5

Speed of Interpretation: 1

Preventing Misinterpretation: 5

Wow Factor: 1

4. Maps



These are sneakily misleading but they're quick to use and the out of the box Tableau mapping is a wow factor for many.


Total Points: 17

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 2

Wow Factor: 3

3. Lines (Continuous)




Two double clicks to performance over time. Yeah they can be plain but you know you have to have this staple. Wow factor would have been higher if use in Viz in the Tooltip counted here.


Total Points: 18

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 2

2. Stacked Bars




Stacked Bars - aren't they doing the same thing as an area graph? Maybe, but these get used all the time.


Total Points: 18

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 4

Speed of Interpretation: 3

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 2

1. Horizontal Bars




Number 1. Old faithful - the Horizontal Bars. The ease, speed, and ability to get insight from this make up for it telling you stories from back in the day.


Total Points: 19

Frequency of Use: 5

Ease of Use: 5

Speed of Interpretation: 4

Preventing Misinterpretation: 4

Wow Factor: 1

So what do you think? Did your favorite Show Me get left out of the top 10? Feel free to comment with your own rankings. I've also attached an excel of my breakdowns - in case anyone is feeling like making a Tableau on Tableau this week.

RankingShowMesxlsx


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