How to get good at Tableau – in 8 easy steps

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I get a lot of people asking me how they can become good at using Tableau. It’s a rapidly growing market and it’s natural to want to keep up with the latest technology.

If you want to fast track your Tableau learning curve here are my top tips:

  1. Find something you are passionate about. It needs to be something that has a good amount of available data. A lot of the subjects people are really passionate about have publicly available data, e.g. sporting data. You can use Open Data released by governments simply by searching ‘subject name’ and ‘data’. See what comes back!  We recently had a member of our User Group present on the TV show “Survivor” using data off Wikipedia and the internet, he was passionate, he had put in the effort and it was fascinating!
  1. Get Tableau. If you have Tableau Professional or Personal, that’s great. If not, download Tableau Public (it’s free). You can publish your discoveries about your passion to the world on Tableau Public.
  1. Subscribe to Viz of the day– the examples aren’t always perfect, but some are fantastic. Viz of the day can give you a great idea of how other people are using Tableau. There is a huge variety of ways that people attack data issues so when you see a good or interesting Viz, download it and look at how the author created it.
  1. Get familiar with and use the Tableau online learning tools, these are first rate.
  1. Go to a publicly available Tableau training course. These are excellent, well thought out classes. Training can take you to a higher ability level very quickly.

Extra tip: If you buy the product and use it frequently in the month before the course, you’ll absorb more useful information at the course. Don’t waste your absorption capacity on basic stuff!

  1. Read up on Stephen Few’s tips on Visual Design at perceptualedge.com. Or even better, attend one of his excellent courses.
  1. Join your local Tableau User Group. If you can, present the work you did on your chosen topic of passion. You never know, your enthusiasm might be contagious! It is ALWAYS more interesting listening to someone talk about a topic they love. I am lucky I have several to choose from where I have done deep analytical analysis.
  1. Stretch yourself. Focusing on a subject you love makes it easier to reach a deeper level of thinking and to find time for data discovery. You will find yourself stretching your learning further with ease.

For myself, I have been lucky to have had a string of topics I am passionate about. Each has taken me to a new learning level as they required a subtly different approach to get the best insights from the data using Tableau. The broader your experience, the more you have to call on when a new question arises.

Lastly, if you only do one thing, find something you’re passionate about and apply it to Tableau. Oh, I already mentioned that!