Tableau Community Spotlight: An Interview with Lisa Rapp

Lisa Rapp Bio

Hi! I’m Lisa and I’m a Business Intelligence consultant from Frankfurt, Germany. I’ve only recently become a part of the awesome data viz community. Up until about a year ago, I was just finishing my PhD in Theoretical Physics.

When I tell people I’m a physicist, they are often surprised to hear that I ended up working in data & analytics. But my previous work as a scientist really is the source of my love for data: My favorite part of doing research is how we extract meaningful information from what might seem to be just a bunch of random numbers for others – very similar to what good data analysis will do. I’ve also always been passionate about making science more accessible to everyone. And a part of that is how we present and communicate our research findings to others. That’s where my interest in data visualization started. I’m very excited that I now work in a job where I get to create insights from data every day.

When I’m not working or vizzing for fun, I like to explore the beautiful region I live in. Frankfurt has a lot to offer – great architecture, the beautiful Main river, amazing museums and really awesome restaurants. I also love to go hiking along the rivers or through the many vineyards in the surrounding area (where stopping along the road for a glass of wine every now and then is a nice plus).



Michael: Hello, Lisa. I really liked your #IronQuest submission on U.S. National Parks. Can you tell my readers the process you followed to analyze the data, design and then build this dataviz? Also, can you talk a bit about the differences between creating this as a Mobile-First Dashboard versus for a computer screen?


I was very excited about this #IronQuest theme! I’ve never created a mobile-first viz before, but it was definitely on my list of things I’ve wanted to try.

I had the idea for the topic when I researched some potential future travel plans: I really want to see some of the famous National Parks in Utah and Arizona. I tried to figure out all the typical questions you might have when planning a vacation like ‘What are the things you can see in the parks?’ or ‘When is a good time to visit?’. So I thought – wouldn’t it be neat to have a mobile guide that can answer those questions?

Once I had pulled all the information together from different sources like the National Park Service and Wikipedia, I started with the basic design. I decided to use a gradient background to make it feel more app-like. To keep it mobile-friendly, I chose rather simple vizzes and used only a single viz on each page. To connect all the pages, there is quite a bit of navigation going on – more than I would probably use in a “regular” dashboard. The custom buttons are an important part of making it all come together.

All in all, I had a lot of fun creating this viz. Designing for mobile definitely was a challenge. A lot of the things I’m used to doing when I design for desktop just don’t work that well for mobile. For example, I found that maps can be tricky because they take up a lot of space. You also can’t easily show additional information in the tooltips. I feel like I still have room for improvement when it comes to UI/UX – that’s something I’m looking forward to working on.

Michael: You are a Consultant with INFOMOTION GmbH. Can you discuss how you use Tableau in your current role?

Lisa: INFOMOTION is a full-service provider for Business Intelligence and digital solutions. I am part of a team that focuses on reporting solutions for our clients. And while we generally work with several tools, my personal focus is on Tableau. We’ve also become a Tableau partner last year and are excited to bring great analytics solutions to our customers.

As part of my job, I’ve helped create our Tableau training courses and regularly teach Tableau to newbies, as well as more advanced users. I’ve also recently helped establish a data literacy training program. In our “Data School”, we teach the basics of working with, understanding and interpreting data. And in the data viz training we show how to translate data into insightful and effective visualizations. I love teaching those classes – it’s so much fun!

Apart from that, as a consultant, I of course also work directly with clients. We support them in all aspects from setting up their Tableau systems, to establishing a data culture – and creating great dashboards, of course!

Michael: Can you tell me your three favorite Tableau tips and tricks?


  • Transparent shapes
    I’ve recently read about this trick on the Flerlage Twin’s blog and it’s been a game changer for me. It’s basically just an image of a single, transparent pixel that you import as a custom shape. You can then use that to put things such as labels at precise locations without any hidden lines or shapes someone might accidentally click on.

    Here’s that blog post:
  • Building tables with MIN(0.0) or MIN(1.0) as columns
    I’ve been obsessed with creating better tables recently. But building tables the “regular way” (with Measure Names and Measure Values) doesn’t give you a lot of control. With this trick, you can address each column individually – including individual formatting or even combining text columns and visual cues such as bars or sparklines inside the table.
  • Accessing your custom color palettes by placing a dummy field on color

This trick has saved me so much time when building dashboards that use Corporate Design colors: If you want to change the color of, say, a regular bar chart, you can only chose from the standard colors or type in a hex code. But if you place any dummy dimension (it can be just an empty string or any random letter such as “a”) on the color shelf, you’ll have access to all your custom color palettes and can easily pick a color from there.

Darren Criss

Michael: You state in your Twitter profile that you are a fan of Darren Criss. I just watched the Netflix limited series, Hollywood, in which he starred. Can you tell my readers why you are a fan?

Lisa: You’ve just opened a can of worms with that question, Michael 😀 I first became aware of him when he was on ‘Glee’. I randomly looked him up on YouTube one day and kind of fell into a rabbit hole that I’ve never been able to come out of since. I think he’s an amazing actor – I highly recommend “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace” for which he won several awards (though it’s pretty tough to watch at times because of the subject matter). He’s also a musician/singer/songwriter. Plus, he starred on Broadway and produces an annual Broadway festival – which is very cool if you’re a bit of a musical theater nerd like I am!

Michael: Can you tell me your three favorite things about Tableau Conference-ish?


  1. Getting all the inside scoop on upcoming new features
  2. Iron Viz – we had a fun group watch at work and it’s just such a big data viz party in general!
  3. The #datafam going wild on Twitter – there was so much love and community spirit!

Michael: What is next on your “To Do” list? What can the Tableau community expect to see from you in the near future?

Lisa: I’ve just started my own blog! I’m super new to this, so there’s a lot I still need to figure out. But I’m hoping to use this as a tool to be more actively involved in the community and start interesting conversations.

And then I’m also working on my goal of completing all of the #MakeoverMondays this year! It’s a goal I set myself at the beginning of the year in order to create more content and improve my skills. It’s been an incredible experience so far and I feel like I’ve learned so much. I think I’m only missing one week – so I’m on a good path to actually make it!

Tableau Public


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