Let the games begin! And as Effie from The Hunger Games would say, “may the odds be ever in your favour!


Dashboard week is all about time boxing. The goal is to create a viz every day for five consecutive days given a set of rules. Every day is different, or so we hear.


For the next five days, I will be documenting the ins and outs of Dashboard Week.


The brief


The brief this week was to use the American Housing Survey of 2019 and to tell a story of your choice with the data.


The challenges


The challenges included:

  • Large datasets

Large datasets are usually a very good thing in my books, however, for a challenge with a time limit so small, I prefer smaller data sets. The issue comes in when you run the dataset through a few tools in Alteryx, which can take quite a bit of time. A very frustrating constraint.

  • Joining data codes with data labels

The data was quite confusing. All the field were written in code and you must join it to labelling dataset to see what the columns actually means. This makes it a little hard to come up with a story.

  • Hundreds of different topics to choose from

After joining the labels to the fields, I discovered a massive number of topics to pick from. But as I did not know what the data would look like in the end, it was extremely confusing and frustrating to pick a topic and run with it.

  • Starting over at 4 PM

One of the pieces of advice I got for this week was to keep it simple. Choose one topic and focus on that. My problem was that I kept it too simple. I extracted only five columns of data and it took half the day to do that. I ended up with a viz that basically showed nothing and because I didn’t extract more fields I had to go back and choose a new topic with more fields. My advice, extract more data than you think you are going need, then keep the viz simple.


The data manipulation


I ended up making very few changes to the data in Alteryx. First, I needed to transpose it so I could join in the labels so the data would make sense. Then I had to Cross Tab it back into its original form. I also decided to add country latitudes and longitudes to utilize in Tableau (my idea was to create lines, which I didn’t even end up using).



The viz


My viz is fairly simple. It depicts where homeowners were born and what their demographics are. I also have a few big numbers at the top (which always rounds of the viz nicely). I included a Top N parameter so the viewer can choose how many bars they want to see for education, property size and race. Not my best work, but not too bad given the fact that I started over at 4 PM and only started visualizing in Tableau around 8 PM.





  • Format a story as soon as possible and have a back-up story in place just incase
  • Keep it simple, but make sure you extract more data than you actually need
  • Don’t overcomplicate the viz, keep it simple and understandable



Happy vizzing!



Charisma Adlem
Author: Charisma Adlem

Charisma has an interesting background in animal science, having completed a Master’s degree (MSc) in Zoology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She found her passion for data analytics through her scientific studies. She was delighted to discover that The Data School provides a means to follow her heart and enter a career in data analytics. Charisma is a loving mother of two ferrets and has discovered a talent for abstract and realism painting in her spare time. If Charisma had to choose only one food type to eat for the rest of her life, it would be sushi. Charisma also enjoys outdoor activities including fishing, camping and hiking.