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How to Learn Tableau

The most common question at Tableau Conference 2018

I was lucky enough to be one of the 17,000 people at this year’s Tableau Conference, TC18, and like many of my fellow data enthusiasts in attendance, it was my first time.  It was a great experience, complete with inspiring speakers, invaluable training, awesome parties, and endless chances to talk about Tableau and its numerous applications.

One of my favorite parts of conferences is the receptiveness of everyone and the shared passion for working with data.  A majority of the people I met were new to Tableau , but like all of the more seasoned users, were in awe of its capabilities.  Some had only opened Tableau a few times, but were determined to make it a regular part of their work.

While I am by no means a Tableau Zen Master, I do consider myself competent, using the program regularly for a few years. Over those years, I have enjoyed working in positions where Tableau is a part of my everyday job.  

What was I asked most at the Tableau conference? The number one question was, “How do I learn Tableau?”  Here’s how I responded…

Top Three Tips for Learning Tableau (at any level)

Dedicate time to train

It is essential that you spend time in the program regularly and stay familiar with the features.  

Tableau is so powerful because it allows you to combine features in a multitude of ways to build advanced visualizations.  The best way to learn all the features and how they interact is dedicating time to use and try each feature.

There are many resources and conscious learning habits out there to help you learn.  Personally, I arrive at work 30-60 minutes early every day and dedicate that time to do my daily training, focusing on weekly user-led exercises like Makeover Monday, Workout Wednesday and even revisiting Tableau’s training for new features or functions that I don’t normally use.  

Don’t underestimate the power of incrementalism!

Don’t be afraid to experiment

See a new button or menu in Tableau? Click on it!  

There are multiple ways to do pretty much everything in Tableau.  Experimentation is another way to broaden your skill set and discover features you didn’t know existed.  

Did you know that you can right-click and drag fields to the shelves and cards to automatically bring up the dialog box?  How about double-clicking on shelves and typing in fields instead of dragging? Those are just a few shortcut features in Tableau that will make your work quicker and life easier.  

Find a few more here and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always undo.

Engage in the community

A big reason Tableau has had so much success is its strong user community.  

Tableau sponsors Tableau User Groups, known as TUGs, in metropolitan areas all around the world.  Go here to see if one gathers near you.  TUGs usually meet quarterly and are a great place to gain knowledge and share ideas.  

Got a question on how to do something? It has probably already been asked and answered in the Tableau forums.  Tableau does a great job of curating this content, and users are eager to help.  

Tableau Public is also another amazing resource for getting ideas and seeing what is possible.  Whenever I am stuck on how I should visualize something, I often go to the Tableau Public Gallery for inspiration.  Make sure to sign up for the Viz of the Day email as well if you’d like some data viz inspiration delivered to your inbox daily.

Still want more Tableau training resources?

For more guidance on getting familiar with Tableau, check out another one of our blog posts “How To Learn Tableau: My Top Five Tips” or any of the Tableau Fundamentals posts in our blog’s Data Visualization category.  If you really want to jumpstart your Tableau knowledge, consider dedicated, on-site training.

If you weren’t able to make it to the Tableau conference this year, I highly recommend going next year (in Vegas) to see what all the fuss is about.  I guarantee you’ll leave inspired to make a difference with your organization’s data.

Jay Farias

Data Visualization Specialist Jay Farias is a technology enthusiast who specializes in Tableau. He has years of experience implementing innovative technology solutions in the construction and healthcare industries. He supports Data Visualization strategy and implementation for Kantar Health and Intuit.

How to Learn Tableau

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