This is part eight of a series on dashboard visualization.
Well, at this point we’ve nearly crossed the finish line. The last part of this series covers The Feasel Challenge, which has given rise to the single most important dashboard I have: the Victory Burrito dashboard. My challenge is to eat a Victory Burrito in 50 different cities around the world. A Victory Burrito is defined as a burrito that I eat after a speaking engagement. I’d like to track my Victory Burrito consumption and see how close I am to beating this challenge. Specifically, I have four measures that I’d like to track:
- How close I am to 50 distinct cities
- Where I have had a victory burrito (city, state, country)
- Breakdown of victory burritos by chain/restaurant
- How many victory burritos I’ve had per year (not unique cities)
Because the data doesn’t update that frequently—maybe once a week—I can create a strategic dashboard which would refresh periodically, like whenever I feel like updating the underlying data source. Because it’s a strategic dashboard, that helps me define how I want the thing to look and what sorts of visuals fit the motif.
Cousin Joey caught wind of what I was doing and offered to create a dashboard for me. Now, Cousin Joey doesn’t know much about dashboards but was just learning about Power BI and wanted to do something cool, so I decided to let Cousin Joey run wild. Here is what he came back with:
This is close to the worst dashboard possible, and it took
me Cousin Joey more time than you’d think coming up with something this awful. Let me enumerate the problems:
- There is a totally unnecessary background image which is a bit distracting.
- The burrito tile on the sides is awful and needs to go.
- We don’t need to know that Cousin Joey (why does he refer to himself as Cousin Joey? Wouldn’t he just think of himself as Joey?) made this dashboard.
- We really don’t even need a title and if I did, it wouldn’t sound like a third-rate wrestling competition.
- My eye gets twitchy when I see that pie chart, and the donut chart isn’t doing much better. Those are awful choices to display this information.
- The waterfall chart is also a bad use of a good visual—burritos eaten by year is a count which is always positive, and years are independent of one another. Waterfall charts are good for things like profit and loss metrics over a time frame, but not good in this case.
- The word cloud is never a good choice for a dashboard.
- This dashboard fails to answer the most important of my four questions: how many unique cities have I hit so far?
Here is a better version of that dashboard:
So let’s talk about the changes. In the top-left corner, I have a gauge. As I’ve mentioned, gauges are very risky. But in this case, they tell me my progress toward the goal. My official goal is 50, but I wanted to say that I can go above and beyond, aiming for 60. I’m currently at 34 cities, but that number should increase by 3 over the course of the next two months.
Then, moving to the right, I have a line chart and a bar chart. The line chart shows a count of burritos per year. I chose a line chart for this because I’m thinking about time series data and want to watch the ups and downs. This shows that I slacked off a little bit in 2017 in the burrito category (though to be fair, you try to find a Mexican restaurant in Vienna!), so it gives me a little motivation for 2018.
To the right of it, I have a bar chart of burritos eaten by country. The US dominates this, but I expect (or at least hope) that I’ll get a chance to add a few more countries to the list this year.
In the bottom right corner, I have a treemap which shows burritos by state/province and city, so I can break it down further. As the number of countries increases, I can squish this treemap in, or even replace it with a different kind of visual.
Finally, in the bottom left, I have a breakdown of burritos by restaurant. It’s not that I like Chipotle more than anything else; it’s that you can find a Chipotle nearby in most American cities. I do plan to make some effort in increasing my Victory Burrito restaurant choices this upcoming year, and that chart gives me some motivation to do so. One thing that I might think about doing is bundling up the single-serving entries into one category and labeling it as “Others” or something. If I start getting a space crunch, that will buy me some room.
I’m not going to claim that this dashboard is perfect. It does, however, answer my four important questions and helps me tell a story of a man traveling around in search of a good burrito. If you have thoughts on how to make the dashboard even better, let me know in the comments. And if you want Cousin Joey’s contact information for dashboard consulting, I’m sure I can dig it up…