Blog: Creating basic graphs in Tableau

This week we were task with creating our first chart. I used a data set that breaks down how the populations in OECD countries spend their time. In my final chart I decided to just compare time usage between Italians and Americans. I was primarily interested in seeing if there was a difference in the amount of time spent on social activities between populations.

The Chart:

Final chart after sorting through all OECD Countries’ data.

From this chart there are clear similarities and differences between how Italians and Americans spent their time. The amount of sleep people get, the amount of time they spend in school and caring for family members are all very similar. Italians spend about twice as much time eating and drinking, playing sports, and seeing friends. Americans spend more time doing paid work and watching TV or listening to the radio.

The Process:

I started out looking at all of the data of all the countries. I first looked the data as pie charts.

I didn’t want to show the numbers by minute, but by percentage of a person’s day. With so many countries included in the data, having many pie charts wouldn’t be easy for making comparisons. So after trying out the pie charts I looked at creating a comparative bar chart.

Initial bar chart comparing the fourteen categories of time usage between countries.

While the stacked bar chart looked cool visually, it was still an overload of categories, countries and colors. I decided to pair it down to two countries. I chose Italy and the US because I lived in Italy for a year and did notice differences with how those around me spent their time. I wanted to see the data paint that picture for me. So I created a bar chart where Italy is yellow and the US is blue. I like the way these colors look next to each other, but wasn’t sure which way I wanted to orient the chart. Here are the two orientations side by side.

Top: Photo depicts the minutes on the X-axis and activities on the Y-axis. Bottom: Photo depicts the percentage of minutes on the Y-axis and categories on the X-axis.

I wound up finding the top graph more clear to read and interpret than the bottom graph. Having the activities on the Y-axis with the minutes on the X-axis creates a side by side comparison of the two countries. While it doesn’t include exact numbers, it is clear to see similarities and differences between populations.

Questions This Data Provoked:

  • Do Italians value social time more than Americans? Why is that and how do our values when it comes to socializing and friendship differ?
  • How often are Americans eating on the go versus sitting down and having a meal with friends?
  • Does time spend eating and drinking with friends or family overlap with other categories in the data set?

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