DVR Week: Julie Lo on Presenting Survey Data Interactively Using Tableau

My name is Julie Lo and I’m a research assistant at Public Profit.  We help youth service agencies and educational organizations manage what matters.  I want to share with you a way of presenting survey data through an embedded interactive interface created using the program Tableau Desktop and later shared online using Tableau Public.

We process thousands of stakeholder surveys each year for our clients and were thrilled when one of them approached us about creating a method of publishing a city-wide survey of thousands of high school youth to a wider audience.  We found a way to consolidate what in past years has been a 250-page report to an interactive set of data visualizations:

Emphasizing the many different things to consider when creating any kind of data visualization, I’ve included some practices that we will be sure to consider for future projects like this.

Lesson Learned: Which came first: function or design? 

The first leg of the project involves building out of the basic frame: pages, buttons, selecting the best viz to tell the story. Leave enough fuel in your project’s gas tank to be able to do this. Share it with your client for feedback to make sure that it not only works well, but is also designed in a way that is accessible for youth, teachers, and policy analysts alike!

We worked through several drafts before arriving at the final product both internally and with our client.  This helped us to make decisions around what types of visualizations work best for the data on hand.  Luckily, our client has been working on this project for multiple years and was able to share valuable insights on what information to emphasize for the audience and the “look” that would be most appealing.

Lesson Learned: How fit is your data?

Tableau Public has excellent built-in online sharing features and is seamlessly linked to Tableau Desktop making the work of transferring your work online quick and easy. However, Tableau Public does not have a way to suppress the underlying data, posing potential issues around the confidentiality of individual survey takers.  We got around this by using summarized data that we prepared outside of Tableau in SPSS and used summarized data for the underlying data for the Tableau Public file.  This is an important step to consider when planning your project timeline since it adds a little bit of data-prep work.

Lesson Learned: So many questions, where to begin? 

We worked closely with our client to help develop themes to group survey items together and to select ways to filter data by demographics. This creates further utility for both our clients and those they serve. Presenting questions grouped together by theme can help viewers navigate survey results for their populations of interest, helps to make sense of data and keeps pages free of the dreaded data-viz clutter.

Rad Resources – Related aea365 posts:

Rad Resources:

We’re celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting Week with our colleagues in the DVR AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our DVR members and you may wish to consider subscribing to our weekly headlines and resources list where we’ll be highlighting DVR resources. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

3 thoughts on “DVR Week: Julie Lo on Presenting Survey Data Interactively Using Tableau”

  1. Hi John,

    Thanks so much!

    The selection menu was actually done outside of tableau and designed by our client’s web designer. She really did a great job creating a ‘seamless’ page!

    Hope this helps,

  2. Julie. That is fantastic. Could you tell me a bit more about how you built those pages? I know how to do viz’s and dashboards,,, but how did you build in the selection menu?

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