Workout Wednesday: Where we are and where we are headed in 2020

Twenty-nineteen is nearly in the books! This year we produced fifty-two fantastic challenges with varying degrees of difficulty. None of these challenges could have been successful without your participation!

Regardless of difficulty we focused the challenges on learning particular tips or tricks from the tool. Along the way we’ve seen the community grow and evolve in their participation and wanted to share some of our insights from the past two years. We want to share with you how the #WorkoutWednesday2019 community has changed and how we–the contributors–are changing to keep up!

Insight #1: The WOW community is expanding.

When we put together the site we started with about 500 unique weekly active users. That trend is now over 1,700–for the first time broke 2,000 during the week of Tableau Conference. 

Watching this trend line is always strong encouragement for us–especially during the summer months when people would rather be outside than solving a challenge.

Insight #2: The WOW community is global.

One thing I personally get excited about is seeing the participation by country. I try to count only countries where there is “substantial” interaction on the website: more than two pages and at least 4 minutes. It’s clear that we do get some web scraping traffic that hits our site but once we remove that information we still have participants from 168 countries across the globe

Most of our participation comes from the United States and the Great Briton. This should be no surprise as the contributors to date have lived in these two locations. But we’re getting some amazing participation rates across the world including in India (just over 14,000 site visitors), Australia (over 3,400 site visitors), and Japan (over 2,800 site visitors). These are extremely exciting metrics to share!

Insight #3: WOWs participant base is evolving.

We know from the data and from meeting with individuals at community events like Tableau User Groups and Tableau Conference that our community is evolving. Members in the community share the challenges at work–and we see those conversions.

In the first three months of 2018, 50% of our traffic–roughly 1000 unique individuals–was referred via Andy’s original #WorkoutWednesday page. This shouldn’t be a surprise as WOW was kicked off by Andy and Emma Whyte who rotated hosting challenges on their own blogs. During that same time period approximately 25% of our traffic came through Twitter–which was about 100 people per week!

Now let’s fast-forward to the last quarter of 2019: Our twitter traffic still converts about 100-150 individuals per week. However it’s now only about 5% of our weekly traffic!

We see this shift happening and we are slowly adjusting the difficulty of our challenges. We’re doing this by focusing our challenges to a specific case. Just this year–I personally split a dashboard challenge into three separate challenges!

The Evolution of the Workout Wednesday​

The Team

Every year the WOW team has evolved. It started in 2017 with Andy and Emma. They made 26 challenges each. ALSO: CREATING CHALLENGES IS HARD! HOW DID THEY DO IT EVERY OTHER WEEK! THESE TWO DESERVE A PROPER SHOUTOUT! After 2017, Andy and Emma swapped out for Rody and myself–and I must admit I didn’t realize what I had signed up for.  Ann joined in March after a string of guest posts. In 2019 we added Lorna and made Curtis a full-time contributor. In 2020 things are changing again. Curtis will be transitioning from contributor to participant and we’ll be adding five(!!) part-time contributors who will each contribute 3 challenges.  We’re excited to continue to have Community Month, this year it will be during September as everyone prepares for Tableau Conference.

Before discussing more about 2020 I want to take a second to thank Curtis for his contributions this year. Every one of Curtis’s challenges were grounded in the day-to-day challenges he and his team at Pluralsight have faced during their tenure. While he fretted about challenges being too easy or “just a bar chart”–I think he had a savant-like understanding of our audience: he always made his challenges perfectly difficult for the community. The great news is that he’s not going anywhere, he’s just not going to be a contributor–though I think we’ll all miss his challenges.

Ann, Lorna, and myself will be returning for another year. I’m excited about the challenges each will bring. Ann always brings design-forward challenges that are dashboard focused and Lorna has certainly showcased her deep knowledge of the tool throughout the year. I’m particularly excited to see what Lorna brings in her second year. 

Now for the big change: next year we will have five part-time contributors who will each share three challenges throughout the year. I think it takes nine-to-ten months for contributors to find their WOW style so our goal is to get each of those individuals ready as quickly as possible so they don’t miss a beat.

Before I go into who we selected, let me tell you a bit more about the selection process. Immediately after Tableau Conference Ann put out a call for contributors. In less than a month we had twenty-five submissions from individuals in five different continents.

We did not expect this. We were expecting maybe six. But we were way over that. The caliber of submissions was extremely high: Tableau Zen Masters, Tableau Ambassadors, Iron Viz winners, Tableau User Group leaders, Viz-of-the-day winners, and by my accounts:several individuals who certainly are on the short list for Zen Master for 2020.

Our evaluation criteria took several components into account and included, but were not limited to: individuals Tableau Public portfolio, reasons for wanting to participate, ideas for potential challenges, geography, and previous participation. This was not a competition about who has the greatest depth of skills in Tableau.

Our first pass took our list from twenty-five to nineteen. We thought about expanding the list to eight, then to thirteen, then back down to six. In the end we all agreed that we still wanted those submitting to have the opportunity to share three challenges. We all agreed to each take a week away from our own time to add a fifth. This was a no-brainer for all of us.  We also agreed that it made sense to offer a week during Community Month to those who demonstrated strong potential.

Note: I personally covet the weeks that I can offer challenges. And when the inevitable opportunities come up throughout the year because life happens, I’m always asking if I can have the week. I love making challenges. I already have a whole bunch ready for next year. So this wasn’t about making our lives easier, it was about providing opportunity.

So… who is joining the team

Rotation #1: Sean Miller

Sean is a Senior Business Intelligence Developer at Cerner and has been using Tableau since April 2015. He is also Tableau Social Media Ambassador and an enthusiastic member of the Tableau community. As a regular participant in #MakeoverMonday, #WorkoutWednesday and personal data projects there is always something new on his Tableau Public profile. His work has been selected as “Viz of the Week” and is featured in the book, “#MakeoverMonday: Improving How We Visualize and Analyze Data, One Chart at a Time”. Sean’s blog is where he shares his learning and his insight.

We excited for Sean because he’s been a consistent participant in Workout Wednesday since the beginning. He’s posted solutions to numerous challenges and he has created the most popular community month challenges each of the past two years. 

Rotation #2: Meera Losani Umasankar

Meera works as a Senior Specialist in Data Visualization at Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) in Singapore. She has been using Tableau for more than 5 years now and is passionate about data visualisation. Meera’s an active member of the Tableau Community and she also co-leads the Data + Women community in Singapore!

We are excited because Meera brings strong technical skills, and a consistent and clear perspective for dashboard development that we believe will translate to future WOW challenges.

Rotation #3: Ivett Kovács

Ivett became one of the first Hungarian Tableau power-users in 2012. Not just Tableau certified, Ivett has been a Tableau Ambassador since 2017. Currently, she is Starschema’s senior data visualization expert, leading a team of 10+ dataviz developers, developing dashboards, delivering user training sessions, and teaching dataviz related courses at Hungarian universities.  

We are excited for Ivett because of how her work has evolved over the past year. Her smart uses of resources to elegantly display and explain data aligns strongly with WOW challenges. We anticipate her challenges will look straight-forward but will involve some complexity.

Rotation #4: Caitlin Temme

Caitlin’s love of Tableau took her from a career in Finance to the exciting world of data analytics and reporting. She uses Tableau daily in her role at SC Johnson to build executive dashboards and quickly perform ad-hoc analysis. Caitlin started the weekly Workout Wednesday challenges in 2019. Her only regret is not participating sooner, as they’re a great way to learn new features and grow existing knowledge.

We are excited for Caitlin to get started because she’s taken on every WOW this year and excelled through each of them. Caitlin started sharing her solutions to WOW back in September of 2018 and has been a fixture since.

Rotation #5: Lindsey Poulter

Lindsey Poulter is a Tableau Public ambassador and 2019 Iron Viz Finalist. She enjoys finding new and innovative ways to create user interfaces in Tableau. Currently, she works at Wells Fargo as an analytics consultant, where she is responsible for creating dashboards for executives and customers within the IT department. She has been using Tableau for 5 years and has worked across various industries, ranging from pharmaceutical marketing to financial software.

We’re excited to have Lindsey part of the team next year not just because she’s had mind-blowing tips she’s shared via Twitter, the IronViz stage, Tableau Public, and her blog. We know she’ll amaze us with some additional challenges in the last rotation of 2020!

The Challenges

On a lesser point to the team, this year the team is committed to making solution videos available for every challenge. While challenges are released on Wednesday, solution videos will not be posted until Saturday or Sunday (depending on your time zone). It’s important to remember that when we create challenges, they often have multiple solutions-and our solutions are likely to just be one of many possibilities.

I think it’s important to mention that providing solutions are counter to the original vision that Andy had created. I remember many times him saying on Twitter that when someone posted a solution to a WOW challenge on Tableau Public that was the ultimate reward because we all knew they had worked hard to solve the challenge.

However, we know that our audience has evolved, and were trying to evolve with it. While we have several contributors in the community who are regularly posting solutions to the challenges the top request we’ve still gotten was to provide solutions directly on the challenge. In this case the feedback was clear, and we’ve responded the requests. Midway through the year we started posting solutions in a closed accordion. Slowly, we’ve made more-and-more solution videos. But we’re making it official and saying videos will be out during the weekend. 

Accessiblity

Over the last year we’ve worked hard to make challenges more accessible to everyday users of Tableau. We’ve done that by focusing our challenges (as mentioned earlier). By focusing our challenges on one or two key concepts we’ve made challenges less time consuming without necessarily reducing the overall difficulty.

For us, accessibility also means creating and delivering content in a way that is relatable for the modern consumer. For Netflix consumers it’s bingeworthy content released all-at-once. For us it’s creating learning paths through existing content and providing WOW participants through that journey. We’ve been working hard to document our steps within challenges then provide a scaffolded learning path back through the content. This will make concepts on our most difficult challenges more easy to solve.

Expanding Toolsets

We’ve spent the last three years providing only Tableau-based challenges. One thought we are experimenting with is providing a separate track of challenges using another tool. What will this look like? When will it roll out? We’re not entirely sure. We’re not even sure we’ll do it, but it’s on our road map and wanted to share the idea with you and get your feedback.

You.

Finally, I just want to thank you. You’ve helped make this initiative a success. You have helped grow this community. Without your participation WOW would be just a website with example dashboards. So once again: thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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