Re-Viz-It: why I revamped my viz on the musical Hamilton

I love it when data folks are transparent about where they are coming from and how much progress they’ve done. It would be very easy to assume that “some people are natural and I will never manage it”.

This month, Iron Quest, the dataviz challenge to help practise for Tableau’s annual competition Iron Viz, is on the theme of Re-Viz-It, announced Sarah Bartlett on her blog: “we’re challenging you to re-visit an older viz from your portfolio and re-create it with the #IronViz scoring criteria in mind; design, storytelling and analysis.”

And since this is exactly what I did for Iron Viz, I thought I would share some thoughts about how and why I revisited my viz on the musical Hamilton’s motifs.

From this to that

Wait, isn’t it cheating to revamp an old viz and enter it for Iron Viz?

  • Iron Viz is not the reason I revamped this viz: Hamilton will celebrate its 7th (a magic number in the musical) anniversary in a couple of days and I really wanted this date to share again my love for the musical.
  • There is no rule in Iron Viz that states you need to create brand new content
  • For what it’s worth: I’ve seen the excellent work submitted for Iron Viz; since my topic is very niche and not general public (see my first blog on this viz here), I don’t think I stand a chance to end up in the qualifiers like last year. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be part of the collective effort.
  • More importantly, I hope the following blogpost will convince you I just didn’t lazily work on two things and posted for the sake of.

Ok so why did I revisited this viz?

I just don’t like it: I have mentioned that I wanted to revamp it last July here and I have been frustrated by it since I published it.

Things that bugged me the most:

  • Hard to comprehend
  • Too text heavy (I mean, it’s still text heavy but hey)
  • Design is bulky and at the same time, way too close to the official website of the musical (which is not heavy or bulky). I need to break free a bit
  • Font issues in Tableau public – see Judit Bekker’s guide on how to use fonts in Tableau
  • I didn’t know how to turn off highlighting
  • I didn’t know how to use parameter to create a progression timeline
  • Too many icons, too many colours. When you have so much text, you can’t have so much clutter.
  • Not even slightly easy to read on mobile
What do fashion and dataviz have in common? Source AZ quotes

What I’m happy with and kept:

  1. I’m ok with the fact that this is not a viz for the general public. It’s better to have watched Hamilton before reading this piece, and probably only 2% of my audience will read the whole section 2. I’m ok with that 😊
  2. I kept the funnel approach: an intro to the topic, a very detailed analysis and a sandbox where people can play and run their own research.

What I reworked:

  1. Shorter text. It doesn’t look like it, but I promise I ditched quite a lot!
  2. A better intro to the topic, with 2 charts, one easy to read (the jitterchart scatterplot) and an arc diagram.
  3. Better sign posting of the different charts
  4. Completely regrouped the data  differently, which was a lot of manual work no one needs me to describe!
  5. A lighter design – for instance, I already mentioned that the light yellowish background is to increases attentional focus since the viz topic is complex, and it is long to read.
  6. A long scrolling format, much easier to navigate in one go and to adapt in mobile
  7. Talking about mobile: there is no way to make the sandbox feature work because you cannot change the Parameter Font Size. I ditched it. I’m not saying the mobile version is good – but it’s out there, hopefully so that hardcore Hamilton fans get a sneak peek before jumping on a classic desktop 😊

Was it worth re-vizzing my work?

If I am counting on visits, or my productivity ratio: absolutely not. But that’s the thing, isn’t it? I re-vizzed because my initial viz bugged me. And this new one sparks more joy.

My tips if you are thinking of participating to the re-viz it IronQuest challenge:

  • Ask for constructive yet frank feedback: no point in beating around the bush, you need to know what to tackle first to prioritise your time
  • Ask feedback from different people: dataviz professionals, people that are scared by anything that looks more complicated than a bar chart, people into the topic, people who know nothing about the topic you are covering  
  • Keep a list of what worked well in your original version
  • For what didn’t work well: what was your intention? What were your constraints?

With that in mind, you’re gonna rock your IronQuest challenge!

Anne-Sophie  

Hamilton Motifs – how I (re)created my dataviz

Link to the viz Hamilton: the outstanding usage of motifs in the American musical

Link to the viz Hamilton: the outstanding usage of motifs in the American musical

On the 17th of February, Hamilton will celebrate its 7th anniversary: an optimal time to celebrate my favourite musical and more specifically, my preferred part of it: its text.

I’ve seen it live on stage twice in London and a couple of times on Disney+ and I kid you not: every time, I discover something new about the meaning of the story, and how the setting, lighting, choregraphy and overall set design reinforce it.

Tableau’s dataviz competition Iron Viz’s deadline helped me focus on this project on which I spent approx. 100 hours this time around. To be completely transparent with you reader, this is not my first attempt at covering the topic, and I have covered why I’ve re-vizzed-it in another blogpost.

Let’s focus on my 2022 viz!

# 1 Goal and audience

This viz is not an introduction to Hamilton: it’s a viz for people who’ve seen and enjoyed it and want to dig deeper into its many themes.

As such, it contains a spoiler alert in the intro:

Spoiler alert: important details of the musical are revealed!
Spoiler alert: important details of the musical are revealed!

And is quite wordy and I am not expecting anyone who is not interested in the musical to focus for long and read it, especially the second part!

#2 Getting the data

Genius.com and a bit of webscrapping with webscraper.io, my favourite tool for scraping without learning Beautiful Soup!

#3 Analysis

I am in debt of the following sources:

#4 Creating the dataviz in the tool Tableau / technical challenges

  1. Intro: simple jitter in a chart, see Data School tutorial here

Why this chart? Because the jitter evokes notes on a music sheet and because without the jitter, you have this chunky effect:

You can then toggle with another chart to sort out by occurences by songs, instead of repetition of the motifs. The shape is an arc because it ties nicely with the next visualisation…

  • Part 1: arcs diagrams to create jumps between songs

I’m in love with arc diagrams and they brought me luck last year at Ironviz, when I used them in my 6 reasons to (re)watch Buffy.

When the data is right, I find they have this interesting mix of wow while being intuitively read. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have flatten them as much but hey, I didn’t want to make you scroll forever 😀

I once again used Ken’s Flerlage tutorial and template – creating an Arc Sankey in Tableau and even had an epiphany

#5 Design

It’s the third time I use Figma and there is no turning back! I used to design my backgrounds in PowerPoint and Figma was very intuitive to me, after watching the dataviz tutorials out therefrom Ghafar Shah, and Autumn Battani and Lindsay Betzendahl.

In all transparency, it’s only after I published that I realised I probably got a lot inspired by Dinushki De Livera:

one of my fave viz in the world: Dinushki De Livera’s 2019 IronViz feeder entry
Firebird Suite

Colours

A light yellowish background: a couple of months ago, I completed a LinkedIn Learning course on the Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell and Jill Butler. And one thing I learnt around (the numerous effects) of the colour yellow: it increases attentional focus and perhaps even cognitive performance. My viz is complex, long to read so I need to help my reader.

Other colours: each character is represented by the colour of their main outfit during the musical. I’m gonna be honest, I thought the Tableau 20 colour palette was doing a decent job (well, Tableau thought about them a lot) so I used them.

Fonts

If you are vizzing in Tableau Public, you have probably already bookmarked Judit Bekker’s guide on how to use fonts in Tableau: following her blog, I used Georgia for the most part. The elegant handwriting font is Tangerine, it’s supposed to have a 16-17th century look (so dated for Hamilton) but it looked so good with the arcs of part 1.

Look at this beautiful font

I used a third, which is usually a no-no in design but there’s a reason! The title Hamilton is in Cinzel, but it’s more like a “logo” than a different font.

#6 What about mobile?

Ok, so I’m very stubborn but I always to give the possibility for my reader to have a sneak peek of the dataviz even if they are on their smartphone.

The mobile version is not optimal but I’ve shorten the text, increased the font size and put a warning in the header to recommend people to bookmark the link for when they are on their mobile 🙂

The mobile version has a little header to encourage people to read this on desktop

#7 Getting feedback

I’m going to sound like a broken record but feedback is key, whether coming from dataviz professionals or your audience.

In the dataviz field,I went to Michelle Frayman and Zaks Geis‘ weekly #vizofficehours when my viz was still in its infancy; and joined twice the additional Iron Viz ad hoc office hours organised by Sarah Bartlett where I got additional feedback from Sarah, Michelle and Judit Bekker.

That’s all folks, any question, do not hesitate!

Anne-Sophie

Data Visualization Society survey – part 2: explanatory analysis (members)

Click on the image to go back to the visualisation

Since 2017, the Data Visualization Society launches an annual State of the Industry (SOTI) Survey. The 2021 survey has responses to 60+ questions and was taken by over 2,100 people and the DVS launched a competition to visualise the results into insights. Help us Entries can be submitted in two categories: Exploratory and Explanatory. Here is a summary of my 2nd submission: an explanatory infographics – see my exploratory submission in this blogpost.

The Data Visualization Society 2021 industry survey provides wealth of insights on dataviz practitioners, including its Society members. Here are 3 ways Data Visualization Society members differ from the average dataviz practitioner

How I’ve done it?

I imported the 2021 survey data in data viz tool Tableau and looked at the results of several questions related to demographics, current role tools, challenges and openness to new opportunities, broken down by status of DVS membership.

Once I found the 3 insights I found the most valuable, I designed the overall infographics in Figma (taking into account the colours and shapes of the DVS logo).

My Dataviz Principles

No interactivity: this infographics is static, allowing the reader to focus on the explanations.

Accessibility: conscious that this infographic is mostly a static image and that Tableau’s image description field is limited in size, I added an audio transcript at the bottom.

Design: colours and shapes are of course the ones from the DVS logo! Font is Futura