Although today’s focus was on loading data from API, the Whiskey Hunter API that we used was simple. Connecting to the API and downloading all available data was no problem for this week.
Instead, this blog will focus on my main area of difficulty in designing the dashboard – what I will refer to as “dashboard block”. Dashboard block is the data-visualisation equivalent of writer’s block. It occurs in a linear relationship with the amount of creative freedom one is allowed while visualising, but it severely limits one’s ability to work. With so many ideas available, which one should you choose? And how do you know whether it is a good idea?
Thus, even though the number of ideas may increase, the number of ideas that seem good falls, particularly if we set high standards for ourselves. The phenomenon is illustrated below.
Dashboard block was certainly something I suffered from while attempting today’s challenge. The whiskey hunter data is simple – perhaps too simple to build a dashboard. I had a plethora of ideas – some of which were perhaps too creative.
I spent several hours trying out a dashboard that would compare different forecasting methods on the auction price time-series. But when I plotted the predictions, much to my dismay there was not significant variation between the prediction methods that I chose. Moreover, the visualisation simply looked bad. I was forced to go back to the drawing board
Solution to Dashboard Block
The best solution to dashboard block is timeboxing. Set yourself a goal so that, no matter how good your dashboard idea, you will build something useable within a limited time frame. This forces you to accept less-than-perfect dashboard ideas. Sometimes, when we have all the time and resources we need, we become too picky about the solutions we will use.
This was the crux of my dashboard week strategy. Even though my final dashboard was not particularly complex and given another day I believe I could do better, it is still something I can be proud of.
What was my Dashboard?
The dashboard I ended up building was a drinking game. In this dashboard I use tableau more like a GUI development tool than a visualisation tool, and I created a simple game from the interface I created. The game itself is simple – the dashboard will show you the name of a whiskey distillery, and you must pronounce it. This is surprisingly difficult (unless you’re Scottish). How well can you pronounce Allt-a-Bhain?
If you want to have a look at the dashboard, or perhaps gather a few friends and play, you can find the link here.
That is all for today, but I will see you tomorrow for dashboard week day three!