Forget about IronViz, let’s talk MobileViz!

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The final ‘feeder’ for IronViz 2016 has just wound up, with would-be IronViz Competitors crossing their fingers for a final chance for glory on stage at DATA16 in Austin TX later this year.

For the past two weeks, data-vizioneers across the globe have worked tirelessly to bring to life their respective entries.  Generally for an IronViz feeder we receive a theme for which we must source, analyse and visualize the data of our choice.  The first feeder this year was food related, the second was politics, but this final feeder was a different beast completely!  To celebrate the launch of Tableau 10 and the new features that let you create vizes that look great on any device, it was determined that the final feeder would be open to any data, on any theme or topic, BUT we had to include a mobile device specific viz.

Yes, this was Iron Viz: Mobile Edition.

It hurts me to say it, but I hadn’t spent much time in Tableau 10 prior to the opening of this final feeder – so I had to quickly come to grips with the new features, including the device designer.  In previous feeders, I’ve generally spent more than half of my time on data acquisition and data prep.  For this feeder, I really needed to free up that time to test and develop my mobile viz, so I chose to play with some fairly simple data and really focus on the viz itself.

Given my penchant for “viz with purpose” and “viz for good”, I still wanted to create something useful and something that would be of value in the community.

My train of thought went something like this:

Community.  Hmmm.  Let’s narrow that down.  How about the Tableau Community?  Brilliant.  So what do they need?  Caffeine.  Sure, but they’re predominantly American – so they don’t understand ‘real coffee’.  Good point.  How about alcohol? BRILLIANT!!!

And thus my viz was born:

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory.

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

The data

I set out in search of some open data for all bars and pubs in Austin, looking at sites such as Yelp to see if I could do something nifty with crowd-sourced ratings.  I quickly gave up on this idea when I got wind of the data-prep that would have been possible with this data and went in search for something with a bit more depth already built in.  Lo and behold, I came across Texas’ Comptroller’s website.

For those of you who are not familiar with this wonderland, the Texas Comptroller’s website is the home of all things data related to Texas taxes – including the auspicious Mixed Beverage Sales Tax data! What the?  Well, fortunately for me (but unfortunately for the poor licencees in Texas!), a mixed beverage sales tax has been imposed on each mixed beverage (distilled spirits, beer, ale and wine) sold, prepared or served by a mixed beverage permittee in Texas since January 2014.  This meant I could basically get location data AND a proxy for ‘sales’ for all licenced venues in Austin.  Oh yeah baby – this was going to work nicely!

To complement the data further, and make some attempt to tone down the alcoholic nature of the viz, I added a few restaurants, local medical services, drug stores and coffee shops – all of which I’m sure will come in handy at some stage!

With a basic street address for each venue, I used batch geocode service to create lat / long coordinates for each venue.

The viz

The vision for the viz was a street level map – so I set about creating some custom maps with easily identifiable features and street names – using Mapbox.  I created both a light and dark version of my maps for a nifty ‘map in map’ feature I was planning.

Plotting street level marks for each venue was neat and looked great for the mobile viz, but I needed another layer of depth for my desktop viz and decided to plot ‘hot spots’ so that DATA16 attendees could find the areas more-densely populated with bars and such before then drilling down to find their preferred venue.

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

I used the sales tax data to determine ‘hot or not’ (with higher taxes used as a proxy for ‘hot’ as higher taxes implies higher sales!) and used a traffic light feature to give DATA16-devotees an ‘at a glance’ option.

To make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips, I also included a link for zTrip – Austin’s taxi service – to get you to where you need to be!

The device design

Who doesn’t want a map of the nearest pubs in their pocket as they meander through the streets of Austin after a big day at DATA16?!  (It’s a rhetorical question – the answer is WHO DOESN’T!!!)

Whilst I kept some of the functionality from the desktop viz in the device design, I knew it needed to be a simpler, more focused viz and so I set about ‘removing’ rather than ‘adding’ to this view in the device designer.

Maps were the heart and soul of this design, so they stayed:  the hotspot map would have been a little tricky to navigate on a small screen so this was replaced with a detailed venue map, with the option for users to select how far from DATA16 they would roam.

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

Key features such as direct access to booking a cab via zTrip – as well as an option to choose a by name (for those with pre-arranged ‘meetings’!) were kept, but everything else was out the door!The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory


The devil is in the detail!

I have to send a huge thanks to my darling husband at this point – when I asked him to have a play with the viz on his phone to see how the uninitiated might interact with it, I stumbled across an unexpected (but in hindsight, TOTALLY expected!) mishap.  If the phone was tilted to a horizontal, rather than vertical, position, my beautiful header and footer looked bad.  Real bad.  Too bad to show you here.  So I won’t.  But after a quick trip back to Canva, I had perfect imagery which would suit both profiles.

The Official Unofficial DATA16 Directory

The result?

We know who will be filling two of the places on the IronViz stage at DATA16, but we won’t know who the third person is for another week.  I’m happy with my entry – as always, I would have loved to do more, to dig more and to delve deeper into the data – but at the end of the day, I think this viz looks awesome and it works really well.

So, to my dear DATA16 devotees, here is my gift to you.  You’re welcome.  Use it wisely.  The power is in your hands!


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