#MakeoverMonday 2018 WK47 – how many hours do Americans need to work to pay their mortgage?

After a few hectic days I finally found some time to dig into this week’s #MakeoverMonday so let’s just get right to it.

The original


What works well?

  • It got my attention, you can NOT not look at it.
  • The title states a clear purpose and the visualization appears to provide the answers.
  • The colours work rather well and they provided a clear legend.

What could be done better?

  • Not all bars on the chart have a label which makes it difficult to make a proper comparison. Also my eye keeps moving back and forth between the bars and the legend while trying to compare individual cities. Because the bars are 3D the proportions appear to be off; and from just looking at them it’s difficult to see the real difference between cities.
  • I don’t believe we need the map because it doesn’t seem to serve a real purpose other then to show we are talking about cities in the US.

My makeover

I’ve been a bit stuck for inspiration this week. I knew I wanted to do Small Multiples because I believe it works well in this case; but was undecided on a chart type (it wasn’t going be bars) until I saw Eva Murray’s viz. I thought the visual of the clock worked really well here so I decided I would try and rebuild it. (also I haven’t done a Pie Chart since I started using Tableau late July this year, and I really really really wanted to but haven’t found an excuse yet; and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pay homage 😊).

It took a few minutes to figure out the calculations (confession: math’s wasn’t my favourite subject in school) but managed to get there by writing it out. I find that when thinking through a problem, writing it down helps me structure my thinking. The below is a ‘cleaned up’ version of my doodles 😊, I hope they make sense.


Translating this into Tableau was easy, so I recommend you give it a go and consider it good practice.

The rest was just following Andy Kriebel’s tutorial for Small Multiples and boom, I had a screen filled with small pie charts. And if you want to take it one step further and add a Mobile view, I can highly recommend Paul T McHale’s recent post on designing for multiple devices when using Small Multiples.

I went with different colours because I like experimenting with contrasting colour palettes. The idea was that yellow is a happy colour (think sunshine); more yellow means people are happier because less of their time working is going towards paying off their mortgage. Perhaps a bit of a stretch but I quite like looking at it now so decided to leave it.

Click on the image below for the link to the interactive viz on Tableau Public.

How Much of Your Day's Works Goes Towards Paying off your Mortgage_(1)

Thanks for reading and if you haven’t participated in Makeover Monday yet, I can highly recommended it. It’s had such an impact on my learning so click here to find out more. And don’t hesitate to reach here or on twitter should you have any questions about the process, or are just curious and want to know more.

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