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Unleashing Data Insights: Crafting 8 Visualizations with Tableau and Building an Interactive Dashboard

October 04, 2023
Catherine Scott
Catherine Scott
Meet Catherine Scott, a data visualization expert from the University of Calgary, Canada, with 10 years of experience guiding students to excel in data analysis and Tableau visualization.

Since the advent of the digital age, data has emerged as an indispensable component in the decision-making processes of a variety of different industries. You are not an exception to this paradigm that is driven by data because you are a student. Working with datasets is likely to be a part of a number of the assignments and projects you are required to complete if you are pursuing a degree in any subject, including business, science, the social sciences, or any other area. Mastering data analysis and visualisation is absolutely necessary if you want to perform well in these tasks and acquire valuable skills that will help you in your future career. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of Tableau, a potent tool that has the potential to revolutionise the way you approach assignments and projects involving data. ability to analyse and visualise data is an important skill in the modern world, which is increasingly driven by data. When you are a student, the majority of the time, you will be given assignments and projects that require you to work with datasets. Tableau is a powerful tool that can be used for both the visualisation and analysis of data. In this article, we will explore how to create eight different visualisations using Tableau, as well as how to build an interactive dashboard that can help students solve their Tableau assignment in a more efficient manner.

The Importance of Data Analysis and Visualization

Tableau Excellence Crafting 8 Data Visualizations and an Interactive Dashboard

First things first: before we get into the nitty-gritty of Tableau, let's take a moment to discuss the significance of data analysis and visualisation as skills that students should have.

Informed Decision-Making

The concept of making decisions based on data is quickly becoming more than just a buzzword and more of a fundamental practise in many different industries. Whether you're working on a marketing campaign, a scientific experiment, or an analysis of public policy, you can provide insights that help inform better decisions by effectively analysing and visualising data. This is true whether you're working in public policy, science, or marketing.

Communication of Findings

One of the most valuable skills one can possess is the ability to present one's findings in a manner that is both understandable and appealing to the eye. It gives you the ability to communicate complicated information to a wide variety of audiences, ranging from fellow students and professors to potential employers.

Academic Success

As you progress through your academic career, you will inevitably be presented with a variety of assignments and projects that call for you to interpret and present data. Learning how to use data visualisation tools such as Tableau can provide you with a significant advantage, enabling you to perform exceptionally well in these activities and earn better grades.

Introduction to Tableau

Let's begin by discussing Tableau and the part it plays in this process now that we've established the significance of data analysis and visualisation.

What is Tableau?

Tableau is a data visualisation and business intelligence tool that is extremely powerful and versatile. Users are given the ability to connect to a variety of data sources, to transform raw data into meaningful insights, and to create visualisations that are both interactive and informative using this tool. Tableau can assist you in maximising the potential of any dataset you're working with, whether it's information from customer surveys, scientific experiments, financial transactions, or something else entirely.

Setting up Tableau

Tableau has a user-friendly interface, making it simple to get started with the software. These are the preliminary steps that need to be taken:

  1. Download and Install Tableau: Tableau can be installed on your computer by downloading it. Start off by downloading Tableau Desktop, the application that will enable you to create visualizations and dashboards for your data. If you're working with public datasets, you can either sign up for a free trial of Tableau or use the Tableau Public Service.
  2. Connect to the Data: After launching Tableau, connect it to the data that you want to analyse. Tableau's capacity to connect to a diverse range of data sources, including databases (like SQL and Oracle) as well as spread sheet programmes (like Excel), is one of the product's most notable advantages.
  3. Data Preparation: The process of cleaning and preparing your data before attempting to visualise it is referred to as "data preparation." To accomplish this, it may be necessary to handle missing values, filter out irrelevant data, and transform data as required. Tableau offers tools that can be used for these responsibilities.

Crafting Visualizations with Tableau

Let's take a look at how you can create a variety of visualisations to gain a better understanding of your data now that Tableau has been installed and your dataset has been connected.

Bar Charts

In the realm of data visualisation, bar charts are among the most fundamental tools you can use to compare various categories or groups. They are the best choice for displaying data that consists of discrete elements.

Creating a Bar Chart:

  • To add a dimension to the Rows shelf, simply use the mouse to drag and drop a dimension, such as a product category.
  • To add a measure to the Columns shelf, simply use the mouse to move the measure you want there (for example, sales).
  • A simple bar chart has been created for you at this point. You can further personalise it by including labels, colours, and tooltips in the customization process.

Line Charts

Using line charts to illustrate trends and changes over time is a very effective way to present the data. They are extremely helpful when it comes to visualising data in the form of time series.

Creating a Line Chart:

  • Put the date dimension you just created on the Columns shelf.
  • Simply move the measure you want to use (say, revenue) to the Rows shelf using the drag and drop method.
  • A line chart will be produced by Tableau in an automated fashion. The lines can be formatted, additional reference lines can be added, and the granularity of the dates can be adjusted.

Scatter Plots

When attempting to visualise the relationship that exists between two numerical variables, scatter plots are the tool of choice. They are especially helpful for projects that require correlation analysis.

Creating a Scatter Plot:

  • Put one of the numeric dimensions on the shelf for the columns, and put the other on the shelf for the rows.
  • Simply move the dimension you want to colour code (such as region) to the Detail shelf using the drag and drop method.
  • Make the scatter plot more specific to your needs by modifying the axes, including reference lines, and including tooltips.

Pie Charts

It is possible to get a good understanding of the components that make up a whole by using pie charts, which makes them useful for projects that require the representation of proportions or percentages.

Creating a Pie Chart:

  • Put a dimension (like a product category) on the shelf that is labelled with the colour.
  • Put a measure on the Angle shelf by dragging and dropping it there (for example, market share).
  • Your slice of the pie is ready to be viewed. You could make it look better by exploding the slices or adding labels.

Heat Maps

There is no better way to display density and distribution than with a heat map. When it comes to projects that require the analysis of spatial data or intensity, they come in very handy.

Creating a Heat Map:

  • Place geographic dimensions (such as latitude and longitude) on the shelves designated for the Columns and Rows categories.
  • Move the measure you want to use (for example, population density) to the Colour shelf by dragging and dropping it there.
  • Make the appropriate adjustments to the colour scale and the legend in order to effectively visualise the data.


Histograms are useful tools for gaining an understanding of the distribution of a single numeric variable. They are required for all assignments having to do with the analysis of data distribution.

Creating a Histogram:

  • On the Columns shelf, add a numeric dimension such as "age" by dragging and dropping it.
  • Tableau's default behaviour includes the generation of a histogram. As necessary, make the necessary adjustments to the size and appearance of the bin.

Box Plots

Box plots are helpful tools for displaying the distribution of data, particularly when comparing a number of different categories. They come in handy when working on projects that require statistical analysis.

Creating a Box Plot:

  • Position a dimension, such as a category, on the Columns shelf.
  • Place a measure on the Rows shelf by dragging and dropping it there, for example sales.
  • You can add a box plot by going to the "Show Me" menu and selecting the "Box Plot" option.

Tree Maps

When it comes to visually representing hierarchical data, tree maps are the way to go. They are helpful tools for projects that require data with multiple levels of categorization, such as those that students must complete.

Creating a Tree Map:

  • On the Rows shelf, arrange the dimensions as desired in a hierarchical fashion by dragging and dropping them in that order (for example, region > country > city).
  • To assign a colour to a measure, such as revenue, simply move it to the Colour shelf using drag and drop.
  • The distribution of the measure in its hierarchical form will be represented by your tree map.

Building Interactive Dashboards

Tableau's true power lies not in its ability to create individual visualisations, which are important in and of themselves, but rather in its capability to create interactive dashboards that bring together a number of separate visualisations into a single, cohesive, and engaging experience.

Steps to Create an Interactive Dashboard:

  1. Create a Dashboard: To initiate the creation of a dashboard in Tableau, go to the "Dashboard" option on the main menu. This will cause a new dashboard workspace to be displayed.
  2. Add Visualizations: To add visualisations, simply move the visualisations you have created onto the dashboard workspace using the dragging and dropping method. Modify their sizes as necessary, and arrange them in the desired order.
  3. Add Interactivity: Make use of actions and filters to turn the dashboard into an interactive tool. For instance, you could create a filter that enables users, including yourself, to select a particular category. When they do so, all of the visualisations on the dashboard will be updated in accordance with their selection.
  4. Include Instructions: Provide users with direction on how to make the most of the dashboard by including either a text box or specific instructions. When it comes to sharing your work with others, such as classmates or professors, this can be an especially helpful strategy.
  5. Test and Publish: Before you make the dashboard available to others, make sure to give its interactivity a thorough examination. This will ensure that users have an enjoyable and trouble-free experience. As soon as you are satisfied with it, you can publish it to Tableau Server or Tableau Online so that it is easily accessible to other people.


In a world increasingly driven by data, the ability to analyse and visualize information is a skill that can set you apart in your academic and future professional endeavours. Tableau, with its user-friendly interface and powerful capabilities, offers you the tools you need to excel in assignments and projects involving data. As a student, your journey towards becoming proficient in data analysis and visualization begins with understanding the fundamentals of Tableau and practicing its various features. By creating an array of visualizations and combining them into interactive dashboards, you can not only meet the requirements of your assignments but also gain valuable insights and communicate your findings effectively.

So, start your Tableau journey today. Explore your datasets, experiment with visualizations, and build interactive dashboards that not only help you succeed academically but also prepare you for a data-driven future where informed decisions and compelling communication of insights are highly prized skills. Tableau is your gateway to this exciting world of data exploration and discovery.

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