Creating maps with multiple layers in Tableau

Creating maps with multiple layers in Tableau

ByJan Watermann


August 17, 2018

This tutorial is about creating geographic visualizations in Tableau with multiple layers. To keep it simple we used the sample data, which is available here .

How to create maps with multiple layers in Tableau

Geographic visualizations have the disadvantage that they often don't provide enough information to the viewer. Advantages are that they are easy to read and fun to look at. To integrate more information into geovisualizations we use the dual axis feature in Tableau.

Before we start we need to import our data source into Tableau. Then we drag the dimensions "State" and "Country" into "Rows". Now Tableau offers you to create a map with its "Show Me" function. Since our data source deals with the USA, we go for a slightly simplified map of the US mainland.

Importing a data source into Tableau

The information density of the map can be adjusted under "map layers". We like to use a relatively basic map that only includes the outlines of the individual US states.

Preparing a Tableau map for visualizations

To add values to the map we have to drag a field from the "Measures" area onto the "Color" button associated with our visualization. We would like to visualize the states according to profit, and therefore use the corresponding value.

Adding a value to the visualization

Now we get a visualization, which represents the differences in the profitability between the individual states on the basis of color distinctions. It becomes clear that the state of Texas is the least profitable one. If we look at the legend, we even recognize that the state of Texas generates losses for the Superstore.

Understanding our first visualization

However, the colors used for display can be changed as desired. In order to facilitate the evaluation of the visualization, we choose a red-green color scheme. To change the color of our visualization, we click on the color button and choose our preferred colors. I recommend to choose the full color range as well.

Using new colors in Tableau

Then we use the "dual axis" function. To prepare for that, we duplicate our above location data. This can be done with clicking on our value with a pressed ctrl key (cmd for Mac OS users) and then dragging it next to the existing value. Now we should be able to recognize two fields, which later merge into a map with multiple layers.

Preparing for dual axis usage

After that, two maps are displayed. The second visualization is now suitable for integrating a second value into the first map.

Creating a map with more value

Now we can improve the second map with a new value from our "Measure" area. We choose to compare sales and profit, and therefore replace the sales value with the profit value in our second map. (If you drag the value "Sales" directly to the "Size" button you will get an interesting visualization.)

Adding sales to the second card

Now we adjust our second map with a right click and select the Dual Axis function. I choosed to use white as the second visualizations color to get a better overall result when merging the maps.

Using Dual Axis to visualize to values in one map

This is our final result. With this visualization it becomes clear that sales are relatively high in Texas. The reason for the lack of profitability lies therefore probably in fixed costs or other issues reducing the free cashflow of the Superstore.

Thank you for reading, we will use this visualization to create something more advanced in one of the next tutorials..

Looking at our final viz

Creating maps with multiple layers for your own business

Reviewing this tutorial, it becomes clear that profound Data Analytics can lead to powerful results. Various aspects that we have taken up in this visualization and learned about the fictitious company can significantly increase the profitability of a startup. However, mastering Tableau requires a lot of effort.

Datapony is an easy-to-use solution for entrepreneurs who want to leverage the power of Tableau with little effort and increase profitability and business efficiency with Data Analytics.

Are you not sure if your startup should invest in data analysis?

Have a look at our post "When should startups invest in data analysis?" to learn more about it.

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