Engine Works

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.

Why should you make your workflow visually impactful?

Because you have an important meeting with your manager Jessica, who does not know Alteryx. From your experience you know that:

  • First sight (or first 30 seconds) always has a huge impact on someone's experience, even if it is irrational,
  • It helps them to quickly see the value and the logic,
  • It valorises the power of your work and of the solution.

At the opposite, a messy workflow can harm your purpose and your contribution. Here is an example.


The following two workflows have the exact same tools, but one workflow as been prepared to help colleagues that are new to Alteryx quickly visually understand. The other not so much. Guess which one?





The good news is that if you do not find it visually impactful then you can skip the article. 😉


When does it makes sense to make it impactful?

Of course for a presentation to Jessica, your manager, but also for your colleagues to expand the usage.


You have been working really hard (and with a lot of pleasure) to build an amazing workflow. You are convinced that Alteryx is a real opportunity that brings a lot of value to your department and also save them a lot of time. Presenting it to manager and other colleagues will bring so much value to the team.


You definitely do not want to miss your chance to be impactful because it looks messy or the value it brings is not highlighted. Unfortunately, we are all human, and the first impression is very powerful. This first sight is very striking and affects the general perception of the presentation. Additionally, a nice looking screen will highlight your speech.


I am a Sales Engineer here at Alteryx, and I face the same bias when presenting the solution to managers or prospects who are never going to use our solution live. As convincing as I could be, visual is as important as the value selling and they are right in expecting me to be clear in my presentation. They are not used to Alteryx and I have to make the effort to take this into account. Here is the result of my thoughts.


What will I find in these articles?

My secret as pre-sales 😊: many rules and tips that make a great first impression when demonstrating a workflow.


Note: I am not talking about best practices implementation, or maintainability of the workflow. It often comes with color coding, containers and a lot of rules that are not designed to be nice but designed to be efficient and maintainable. In this article, I only want to focus on making my workflow looks nice, clean and shiny.

Series Agenda

As there are many guidelines, I have split them into three parts:

  1. Part 1: Prepare yourself and your audience:
    1. Identify and write down the value for your audience.
    2. Select your battle. You can not focus on everything; what is your priority?
    3. Never start a demonstration with a huge and complex workflow.

  2. Part 2: Prepare your workflow:
    1. Prepare an easy-to-read title
    2. Align, distribute, ventilate and don't forget to activate the "WiFi"
    3. Frame the functional module of your workflow
    4. Complementary colors are less aggressive
    5. Find a way to explain the workflow in almost one sight
    6. Annotations to help understanding
    7. Macros & containers to minimize the complexity
    8. Pre-execute the workflow!

  3. Part 3: Enrich your workflow with visual effects
    1. Pictures with effects to highlight hidden information or important steps
    2. Hidden containers to display additional information in one click
    3. Be fun and creative using background; try your company's branding and logos

1. Prepare yourself and your audience

 Identify and write down the value for your audience. Remember that Jessica:

  • Is more interested by the impact it has on her team’s job and tasks than in the configuration of each tool,
  • Does not know Alteryx in detail (and maybe does not want to know it in detail),
  • Does not have time to practice and then project herself in the new breakthroughs it allows.


It takes time to realize the field of opportunities that the functionalities bring her team. So, draw the conclusion for her at the very beginning!


Why do I think Alteryx is valuable for all of us ?


Knowing the pain we are all experiencing, here is the value I am seeing in our context:

  • Time saving,
  • Cost saving,
  • P&L Growth,
  • Governance improvement,
  • Auditability,
  • Flexibility,
  • Remove single point of failure,


Then, and only then, you can explain the “how” by demonstrating the solution. Not the opposite. Do not spent thirty minutes explaining in detail a workflow without her knowing what is the final value.


2. Select your battle. You cannot focus on everything.

Maybe there are several topics, functionalities, and values that you want to emphasize. This is your workflow, so you do you; however (and this is important), do not highlight everything within your workflow. Avoid the “Christmas tree issue” where everything is shiny and then Jessica does not understand where to watch. Do not use too much bold, framing, red, colors, etc. Look for clean and minimalist style.




Once more, you have short timing, you already have identified and presented the main value you want to highlight. So now, focus on parts of your workflow that demonstrate this value. You can skip/hide the rest - you do not need to explain every aspect of what the workflow is doing.


Conversely, do not drown the important component of your workflow. If Waldo is one of your battles, you do not want Jessica to desperately look for Waldo! You want to focus on Waldo without any doubt or delay.




I know this is not fun to find Waldo at first glance, and to have such a plain, minimalist Christmas tree, but your presentation does not have the same goal 😉


3. Never start a demonstration with a huge and complex workflow

You are proud of your amazing workflow and you have every right to be. One of the main particularities of Alteryx - that all the users LOVE - is the ease of use. It is really self-service analytics. And I suppose you have already mentioned it to Jessica, so you want her to understand that it is simple and prove it.


Then do not let her first taste of Alteryx be a huge 600 tool, 1000 meters high spaghetti-like workflow! She will not understand what she sees, especially since you were selling the simplicity.




So first, show a small appealing workflow to explain the concept and usage, and only after open your real, more complex workflow.


  • You: “Have you understood how simple it is?
  • Jessica: “Yes.”
  • You: “Then on the same principle you combine easy analytical building blocks like those to reach a complex goal.


Do not let her confuse the complexity of the result (you can manage complex stakes) to the complexity of the solution (the solution is easy to manage).


Do it step by step:


  • First impression on your small workflow: it looks easy and then she will see Alteryx as easy to handle.
  • Second impression on your complex workflow: the “easy” can manage the complex.





Let’s stop this first part here. The next one in the series, Part 2: Workflow Preparation, will be about preparing your workflow to include more visual effects.