Makeover Monday – week 15, 2017: Do oil prices have a direct correlation to the price of gold?

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To celebrate the 10 year Tableau anniversary of my dear Tableau friend, mentor and Makeover Monday partner Andy, he is giving us one of his first ever visualisations he built and we get to improve on it.

We discussed this choice a couple of weeks ago and I told Andy that I thought it was a great idea to use that viz. Not only does it show our community that he too started as a Tableau beginner at some point, but it’s also fun to see how different his vizzes looked back then and how different Tableau Desktop looked 10 years ago. Admittedly, we only see an image of the viz rather than the entire desktop interface, but even the scatterplot tells us how far the UI has come in the past decade…

So here is what we’re working with this week:


What I like about it:

  • it’s simple with good colours for the circles and trend line
  • there is no unnecessary clutter to distract from the data
  • the transparency of the circles helps see that there are more data points underneath

What I don’t like about it:

  • what does each individual circle stand for? Days? Months? Years?
  • while the chart shows correlation, there are no further call-outs to tie it back to the rest of the blog where Andy discusses what the implications could be
  • I’m all for simplicity, but I’m missing something like a subtitle and what the axes stand for. I can guess it’s prices, but it doesn’t tell me whether that is truly the case
  • I don’t care much for the borders around the scatterplot, they don’t add any value and white space would probably look better here
  • the shading of the title puts too much focus on that section of the chart when in fact there isn’t much information to be found…

What I did:

  • scatterplots are an excellent way to show correlation between two measures, so I stuck with that chart type
  • to change things up I decided to show the evolution of my scatterplot from start to finish in 6 individual charts, going from the default settings to finished viz in one dashboard
  • I think the idea came to me because of my week 14 summary last Friday and I think this week’s makeover viz is a way to show what I mean when I talk about ‘the little things’ and paying attention to detail
  • I started with a drawing. This time it wasn’t on paper or a whiteboard, but on the screen of my new surface pro 4. This way I have a digital version straight away 🙂 (and it was really fun to do!)

week 15 draft.png

  • creating the dashboard in Tableau actually only took about an hour. What was time consuming afterwards was the formatting because the extremely high resolution of the surface pro makes it nearly impossible to get things right in Tableau Desktop the first time round. So I formatted, published, formatted, published for about 30 iterations until the alignments were right and the font sizes fitted on the screen.
    Here is what the dashboard looks like in Tableau Desktop (on the left) compared to an image download of the published Dashboard from Tableau Public (on the right)

Tableau Desktop vs Tableau Public

  • I added annotations to provide context which is something I felt was missing in the original viz. For me, just looking at lots of data points in a scatterplot doesn’t tell me a whole lot beyond ‘yes, there is a correlation’. What I was interested in was showing changes over time.
  • I chose to add colour for the different decades. This helped show some movements over time but without cluttering the viz with colour per year or a gradient. I added the colours as a legend when I first introduced them but then used them in the annotations to remove the need for a legend. I also repeated them in the tooltips.

week 15 tooltip

  • Lastly, adding highlight filters to the viz allows the user to select a decade or individual year and have them highlighted in the scatterplot. At the decade level, a recalculated trend line will also be displayed.

week 15 recalculated trendline


So here is the complete viz, simply click on the image to view it on Tableau Public.

The Evolution of a Scatterplot (2).png


  1. Hi Eva. What drawing app do you use on your surface pro? I’ve been using bamboo, but I’m curious what other people use.

    (And I agree about having the digital version thing. That’s one of the primary reasons why I bought a surface–so I can write/sketch my notes then share immediately)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Eva for sharing your thoughts on these visuals. It is an inspiration for me. I follow #makeovermonday to improve my Tableau skills.

    Liked by 1 person

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