at the Water's Edge

Living life and learning all I can along the way!

#MakeoverMonday Data Visualization Challenge

A few weeks ago, I came across the #MakeoverMonday challenge on Twitter -- which is a weekly data visualization challenge put out by Eva Murray and Andy Kriebel.  The aim is to rework an existing dataset and visualization (viz) into a new creation -- as a way to learn, grow and think about how to communicate data more effectively.  It really piqued my interest, as this is an area that I've been  trying to grow in. Although most participants use Tableau to create their visualizations (vizzes), I decided to use Excel because it's what I am most comfortable with and use most often at work. I have dabbled with Tableau just a bit -- usually only using it for some mapping features -- but looking at some of the awesome vizzes people have created, it looks like a really great interactive tool for presenting data.  In my professional life, I'm more often presenting a snapshot of data via PowerPoint or even a snip via email, so I haven't gotten to really play around much with interactive options (other than some crazy, nerdy fun with pivot tables, of course!).

This week's #MakeoverMonday challenge was of particular interest to me, seeing as though it relates to people's dietary choices, and I work in food and beverage where these sorts of trends are frequently discussed.  As such, for my creation, I decided to focus on how the data relates to labeling a (potentially new) product.

Click here for a link to the original source visualization, found on page 8, or view the viz below:

I kind of liked this visual to begin with. It's pretty simple and easy to understand with neat little icons. It's also a lot of information to digest.  For my example, I wanted to focus on what the most important information would be for somebody looking to launch a new food or beverage product. What nutritional considerations should be made when developing the product? Which on-pack nutritional callouts will be most impactful? it turns out, that depends. Although fat and sugar content are of concern among a good percentage of the population globally, there are some definite variances in dietary preferences by region. So, I decided to focus on the top three nutritional claims per region that would be most impactful for a new product or product label.

Here's a little snapshot of my viz, or you can download the full file here (be sure to actually download and open in Excel for full functionality).

I allowed this to be text intensive to allow someone to easily look into the data a little deeper or to skim the highlights of what the data tells us. The right half is more of the "viz" portion, featuring an interactive tool where you can select the region where your product will be sold. This will then update the map icon, top three callouts and regional percentages. The idea is that this would give someone a quick look at which nutritional aspects are going to appeal to the widest audience within the given region.

I decided to do the data table on the left as a heat map. I've seen some pretty cool vizzes on this data, but sometimes a simple matrix/grid format is the simplest way to look up a particular point of interest (e.g. % of Vegetarians in Latin America).  The heat map adds a little indicator of intensity or importance without being too distracting. I wanted to do something more creative, but nothing I tried seemed to work well! I thought about calculating each diet based on an index, doing some sort of scaling bubble chart or even a crazy bar chart -- but I decided to stick with the KISS method.

I also got to learn/relearn a few things in Excel by putting in the changing image for each region. I think I'm going to need to revisit that, though, as I had to do a sort of workaround when I couldn't get the formula to work the way I wanted it to.  You'll probably notice lots of other things in the Excel document that could have been done more efficiently -- but that's why I'm doing this -- there's lots of room to improve. I tend to operate on the principle of continuous improvement -- so I'll probably find lots of things later to make this better (already fixed one thing since starting this blog!)

 Here's to my first (and hopefully not last) #MakeoverMonday!  It was a fun challenge and a good opportunity to learn, test and try out new skills. Thanks to Eva and Andy for organizing this challenge!

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Hi there! My name is Dana and I live in West Michigan with my husband, Tom and our dog Copernicus. I created this space as a place to share the things I learn along this journey I call life. I work in marketing and I'm a sort of Jane of All Trades, interested in all things nature, gardening, cooking, exploring and learning new things. This blog is a conglomeration of my interests, hobbies, life and life lessons. Thanks for stopping by!