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Vital Sines...Cosines and Tangents

A Tableau homage to Grey's Anatomy



On February 1st, 2018, 13 years into the making of Grey’s Anatomy, creator Shonda Rhimes revealed that American TV drama’s first female Chief-of-Surgery, Dr. Miranda Bailey, was a Wellesley graduate. Being a diehard alumna, I had to do something to celebrate the moment of #W pride.


Behold, Grey’s Anatomy Circle of Life, an interactive dashboard which delineates who the main characters are in each of the 14 seasons. Read on to learn how I came up with the design, and how to re-create it yourself.




Recently, I designed a dashboard for a client who wanted a digestible way to visualize 12 KPIs. My inspiration came from the simple watch face on my wrist. I created coordinates to graph the KPIs into a perfect circle and customized each point to show high-level information of each indicator. The process of calculating the coordinates required a quick refresher on trigonometry, but I saved you the grief of converting degrees to radians and created an Excel workbook preloaded with formulas that will calculate all the coordinates you need.


Download workbook here. In the [Coordinates Calculation] tab, fill in the green cells, and your coordinates will auto-populate. The [Tableau Example] tab contains the template of the sheet used in the following example. (Optional: For a more advanced design, use the [Layout Template] sheet to calculate precise sheet locations by setting a specific circle origin and radius.)






Below is an example using this workbook and the Tableau Sample - Superstore data. In a new Tableau workbook, connect to the Superstore data, add the Excel workbook as a new data source, and join both data sources by Month.




Go to your Excel data. By default, Tableau will read the coordinates as numbers. Change the data types of the coordinates into geographical measures (X-coordinates become Longitude data, Y-coordinates become Latitude data). Drag X to Columns and Y to Rows, then change the pill type into Attributes. Finally, drag and drop Month onto your sheet. You will get the following visual:




Hide axis headers, remove gridlines and zero lines. From here, you can do anything to your coordinates, such as use the Shapes mark to change the dots into any shape, customize labels, color your coordinates which a Measure to indicate something meaningful about each month. Below is an example I threw together in a few minutes: I changed the shapes to stick figures, colored them by sum of Sales, added Month labels, and filtered the view to the latest year—voila, a visualization that shows which months shoppers spent the most (and least) at the Superstore in 2017.




P.S. Shout out to real-life Wellesley alumna Wendy K. for coming up with this post's clever title #goBLUE