A data-mom's analysis of her kids' ever-growing LEGO ® collection... and how it got way cooler thanks to reviewers!

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A data-mom's analysis of her kids' ever-growing LEGO ® collection... and how it got way cooler thanks to reviewers!

About this project

Reviewers are an essential part of my creative process.

For me, creating data driven stories like this explanatory style one-pager is a creative (and fun!!!) process. I am constantly challenging myself to arrive at a final product that includes useful and meaningful analysis but in a way that is approachable to most readers and ideally takes them through some type of story.

The process of creating this draft is a real life example of incorporating review and feedback cycles. Below you'll see three (3) different versions of one (1) visual I created as part of my analysis. In between each I reached out to a trusted colleague and asked for their feedback and used that to guide the next iteration.

I hope you'll see how this feedback loop helped me get to a better final product. Maybe this write-up will inspire you to share your in-progress work for feedback too or even become a reviewer for someone else!

And many, many thanks to the reviewers for this project and helping me absolutely level-up the final product -- so much cooler thanks to your input!

--- Key Learnings to Leverage Feedback from Reviewers ---

Try to engage and learn from more than one reviewer.

  • Reviewing someone else's work is a gift! If you're fortunate enough to have multiple people who can look at your in-progress work and provide feedback, not only does it lighten their load but it also gives you multiple perspectives to learn from.

Sometimes what is clear to you will not be to the reader. That's ok!

  • It can be hard, but try not to get overly invested in explaining WHAT you did or WHY you made a certain choice... lean into what the reviewer sees! As the creator, you have knowledge and experience coming out of the analysis and design process that a reviewer does not. They can help you see what might be missing or confusing for a first time reader.

Iterating means refining your story.

  • You'll know you've leveraged and incorporated the feedback of your reviewer(s) when your final visual or story has changed and improved from the first iteration. This doesn't mean you will change every element a reviewer suggests, but if you can see a direct link between something they identified as an area of improvement and your final version you're on the right track!

Visual Draft #1: Bump Chart Showing the Rank of Different Themes over Time


Going into my first draft, I had a list of insights that I thought were important and wanted to visualize:

  • overall lots of different themes had been included into the collection
  • interest in specific themes had changed with time
  • two themes stood out as being favorites consistently

I initially selected a bump chart as it allows you to visualize information across three dimensions at once:

  • time (x-axis)
  • relative rank (y-axis)
  • category (each data-point / line labelled)


I was quite excited having created this graph because bump charts are more technical than a standard line graph. In retrospect, I maybe should have seen this as a hint that the reviewer might have trouble discerning it as a result.

I sent to my first reviewer for feedback, and learned some key things from our follow-up conversation:

  1. The key take-away from this visual: Star Wars™ was the favorite theme
  2. It was hard to tell exactly how many different themes as most of the font was too small and positioning of the labels was hard to interpret. (side note, I had actually miscounted # of themes myself at this point...)
  3. The rank measure was confusing. Reviewer shared that total counts would be easier to understand and compare than relative rank.

Visual Draft #2: Stylized Heatmap Showing Total Count by Theme



For this next draft, I wanted to retain the key takeaway from the first draft, but knew I need to both declutter the visual and move away from using relative rank.

I elected to use a stylized heatmap visual because :

  • Star Wars™ being reinforced as favorite by both color and position as themes organized in a logical, descending order
  • conditional formatting and position gave some way to compare overall totals between themes
  • selected the squircle (rounded square) shape as it reminded me of the shape of a LEGO® minifigure head
  • removed the element of time which I decided didn't actually need to be specified when the totals were so compelling on their own


I sent this draft to a second reviewer for feedback and got some important insights:

  1. Using shapes instead of organizing in a table made it unclear at first glance that this was a heatmap application. In particular, the shapes I had chosen are similar to Excel slicers and could leave the reader expecting some type of filter action to happen! This was not a function I had intended or included in the design.
  2. The gradient made it hard to estimate the counts for any themes not at the top or bottom of the scale.
  3. The styling did not immediately translate the fun topic.

VISUAL FINAL VERSION: Stylized Treemap Showing Total Count by Theme


From the feedback on my second reviewer, I felt confident that I was on the right track! The decision to drop the element of time had not seemed to remove an important part of the story, so now it was about leveraging the design to tell the clearest and most interesting story.

I elected to use a stylized treemap visual because :

  • Star Wars™ still reinforced by overall size as the favorite
  • viewer able to determine an accurate count for any theme without estimation
  • styling and color evokes the fun topic
    • I had this idea floating in my mind about using the imagery of stacked blocks for a bar charts... but it just didn't translate the way I had envisioned. Then when it came to the idea of doing a treemap, the thought of overlapping large base plate sized pieces sparked in my mind. Probably because the last project my son had worked on had some really large base pieces! And after refining the idea a bit, I ended up with this overhead visual that uses the studs to represent the number of sets for a given theme. Leaning into the creative over technical application for this visual adds to the overall feel and theme but certainly wouldn't work in all scenarios! It was incredibly helpful to have the reviewer here encourage me to lean into the creativity.


Final Thoughts:

This summary reviews the feedback process for just one of the visuals, but the reviewers were instrumental in helping me level-up all aspects of the final version of this analysis from each individual graph / visual to composition of the final layout. Most often there are many, many iterations you will go through and many elements you will try and then cut before getting to the final product. I hope this encourages you to both seek out and step in as a reviewer for others!

LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this analysis.

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