Make your filters do more work

At the recent UK Tableau User Group, Mel Stephenson made a great set of points:

  • Screen real estate is scarce.
  • Filters take up lots of space
  • Filters don’t show any information.

How about making worksheets that perform two functions: work as a filter and convery information?

Get that right, and you have just increased the data-ink ratio significantly.

Here’s an example. Recently, Tableau posted a great viz showing the Social Media Race and Twitter/Facebook follower counts of leading Media players. Here’s a snapshot of that viz:

But check out that Filter – it takes up, what, 15% of the whole space? Why not replace the Filter with a worksheet that shows the number of followers each person has, and add an Action Filter to it. The new version of the viz is as follows:

What I like about the new version is that you don’t need to click anything to see who has the most combined followers (Lady Gaga). The only disadvantage is that to select multiple media players, you need to use a lassoo or a Ctrl+Click action with the Mouse.