That time when I joined my first #MakeoverMonday live

I was fortunate enough to be able to join Makeover Monday live @ the Data School in London a few days ago and decided I would write a few words to commemorate the occasion and share some of my lessons learnt.

Confession time

If you’re anything like me (a perfectionist with minor OCD tendencies), you’ve most likely spent more time than most on perfecting and tweaking your vizzes because they don’t look or ‘feel’ quite right. We all have our own unique process when designing or creating something and what’s worked well for me is literally sleeping on it and then go back the next day to see if there’s anything I would have done different. Allowing myself to look at a design with a fresh pair of eyes has helped me dial down some of my initial design ideas and tell a better story. This has been a big part of my learning process the last couple of weeks/months, but it wasn’t until joining Makeover Monday live that I realized the value of literally putting a clock on it and giving yourself a limited amount of time to create something.

The makeover

Looking at the dataset and the initial visualization I knew I wanted to focus on a single measure so I went with ‘On Time’ performance for buses. I was a bit hesitant to post my initial design on Tableau Public but then thought it could be interesting to share and hopefully someone will learn something from it.



I was quite pleased with myself to come up with something in under 60 minutes. I decided not to pay too much attention to the clock ticking away on the main screen and after some tips from Daniel Caroli I was able to create a viz I felt comfortable enough with to present to rest of the group. It wasn’t ‘perfect’ or complete; but I was able to look at the data, prep it and create a visualization that tells a story which is no small feat.


After my presentation I gave myself 10 minutes to make a few changes. I didn’t quite like the look of the target bars, so I took them out because I already had the colours communicating the performance. The bars themselves weren’t aligned properly, and I felt the overall layout could use some tidying up.


And because I’m still me I took one more look when I came home. Truth: I only spent another 30 minutes fixing an issue with the date and to see if I could get the overall view to align better.


And this is where the ‘Doh!’ moment comes in. I had my post ready and was still contemplating whether I should hit publish yes or no. And then I read this comment by Anna Dzikowska on twitter about adding proper scale and I remember thinking .. ‘Why didn’t I think of this’?! … so I made my last change and added my ‘Final Final’ version to the viz on Tableau Public.


My lessons learnt

So what did I take away from the overall experience?

  • Doing ‘Makeover Monday’ in a group is a lot more fun. Bouncing ideas off each other creates a certain energy that lets you come up with stories/designs you might not have thought of when vizzing solo.
  • Giving yourself a limited amount of time to create something is a great way to practice your storytelling skills as it pushes you to think on your feet. This is obviously something I need to work on so will be trying this out more often just to keep me honest and see how I’m improving over time.
  • I’m a work in progress and yes, I made plenty of mistakes in this one but will never ever forget that proper scaling matters. Getting from 1 to 4 takes practice but I will get there.
  • I need to trust my instincts more. When I was done with version number 3 I remember looking at it thinking something was off, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. Practice practice practice.
  • Sometimes simple is good enough. I still struggle with this because I’m constantly looking for opportunities to challenge myself but there’s something to be said for having a solid knowledge of the fundamentals.
  • I knew more than I thought I did but not as much as I would like to and that’s ok, we’re all a work in progress. I also came to realize I need a more structured approach to my learning so decided to put some time in towards building a stronger foundation. I signed up to take the Desktop Specialist exam before the new year. Boom! I read some mixed opinions on this but investing in yourself is always the smart choice and I see it to as good preparation for when I take the Qualified Associate exam.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s