Back in August, submissions were flying in for the 2020 Iron Viz feeder competition. There were a broad range of visualisation styles within the huge pool of entries including long-form designs, business dashboards and click-through stories. You can view all 372 submissions here.

We also witnessed a few mobile-first visualisation designs this year; visualisations that were designed to be consumed primarily on a mobile device, rather than a computer screen.

Below is an example of a mobile-first design submitted for Iron Viz by Klaus Schulte. In this viz, Klaus tells the story of how the Coronavirus spread in Europe spread from a ski resort in Ischgl, Austria. The viz is primarily designed to be consumed on a mobile device and is presented in a ‘scrollytelling’ way:

Source: The Ischgl Spread by Klaus Schulte

Another example of a mobile-first submission is the entry by Lindsay Betzendahl. In this viz, Lindsay analyses data related to sleep to explain why sleep is so important. The visualisations are presented in an app-style experience with buttons where a user can navigate to different sections and pages.

Source: The Importance of Sleep by Lindsay Betzendahl

For this round of #IronQuest, we’ll be focusing on designing mobile-first dashboards and experiences.

This covers visualisations which have been designed primarily to be consumed on a mobile device, as well as visualisations which have a specially-designed mobile experience (in addition to the standard desktop view). For this round, you may use any dataset you wish.

Mobile dashboards are a frequently overlooked area. Despite so many of us consuming Tableau visualisations on our mobile devices, I see few people taking the time to make their vizzes mobile-friendly. I hoping this topic will give us an excuse to improve our mobile-design skills and encourage others to consider the mobile experience when designing in Tableau in the future.

Special thanks to Andy Cotgreave for the idea!

Mobile-First Dashboards

Mobile-first dashboards in Tableau are not a new phenomenon. However, recent advancements in the Tableau platform mean it’s easier than ever to build visualisations with the mobile experience in mind.

Back in 2015, the fabulous Kelly Martin shared a blog post entitled ‘Tips on building dashboards for the smartphone’ and it remains one of the best blog posts on the topic. In her post, Kelly describes a story point approach which enables users to swipe through the story points on a dashboard to find the specific measures they need.

Mobile Dashboard Design by Kelly Martin

There have been countless posts written on this topic since, including this notable post by Anya A’Hearn. In this post, Anya takes a different approach by designing call centre mobile apps in Tableau. Rather than showing everything, Anya focuses on the most important data points only to make it easy for the user to consume the information at a glance:

Call Centre Dashboard by Anya A’Hearn


For more examples of mobile-first visualisation inspiration, please explore the links below (best viewed on a mobile device):

Ken FlerlageFleetwood Mac

Sean MillerThe Business Side of the NFL

Andy CotgreaveStrava Progress Tracker

David HoskinsThe Masked Singer

Jasmine LimAffordable and Clean Energy

Kizley BenedictHorizontal Scroll Dashboard

Bridget CogleyColumbus Zoo

Lokesh GosainWhat is Teladoc?

Dave KramburgMy Year in Spotify

More Resources

Here are a few more blog posts and resources on this topic too:

Andy Cotgreave5 questions to ask when designing a mobile dashboard

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic / Mike CisnerosRedesign for mobile #SWDChallenge wrap up post

Vinodh RamVizConnect talk on designing for mobile

Bridget CogleyTableau 10 Device Designer

Ryan SleeperDesigning Device-Specific Dashboards in Tableau 10

How do I enter?

The process is simple:

  • Source your data and build a viz that is designed to be consumed on a mobile device, or one that has a specially-designed mobile friendly view.
  • Upload your viz to Tableau Public or somewhere where it can be openly viewed online.
  • Fill in the submissions tracker (embedded at the bottom of this post) so we can keep track of who is participating. This step is essential if you want to request feedback or be credited in the wrap-up blog post.
  • If you opted in for feedback in step 3, the guest judge and myself will provide some constructive feedback on your viz after the submission period closes.

Top Tips

  • You can use any data set which fits the theme (assuming you have permission to share it publicly).
  • Always remember to credit your data source/s on your viz.
  • Refrain from using any images or logos on your viz unless you have permission to do so.
  • Remember the Iron Viz judging criteria and try to focus on all three; Design, Storytelling and Analysis.
  • Think outside the box!

Who is my guest judge?

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be teaming up with Zach Bowders this month!

Zach has worked at ALSAC St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for the past 12 years and has served as an IT developer, Business Analyst, and Data Analyst in his career. He received his MBA, Marketing, and ITS degrees from the University of Memphis. In his spare time, he co-leads the Memphis Tableau User Group and hosts his very own podcast, Data+Love. Zach was recently crowned a Tableau Public Ambassador too!

Zach has an impressive Tableau Public portfolio with 143 (!!) vizzes, including ‘CMYK – A Story of Comics, Color Printing and Representation’ and ‘Mary and the Names that Defined our Generations’.

When is the submission deadline?

The deadline for submissions is midnight PST on Sunday 4th October has been extended until midnight PDT on Sunday, 11th October!

Feedback will be provided (to those who request it) via a conversation recorded and posted to YouTube between Zach and I, shortly after the deadline date.

Please note, if we receive a large number of feedback requests (more than we can cover in two hours), we’ll prioritise those from Tableau beginners or those entering #IronQuest for the first time. Any remaining feedback will be shared with the authors directly via email.

Continue the conversation and connect with other participants by following the #IronQuest hashtag on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing your entry!

*Cover photo by Daria Shevtsova, sourced from Pexels

Submissions Tracker