Due to being offline last week, I skipped a post, apologies, so let's catch up! In the third post of this blog series, I talk briefly about a couple more things you should think about when designing and building a dashboard. Using inspiration for your own build, and properly utilising your dashboard real estate.
So, you have Tableau Desktop, you have a dataset, and you can already see the insights and stories you can extract from said data. A dashboard will be an excellent medium for communicating those insights. For your dashboard to be genuinely awesome and empowering for those that make decisions, you should really take the time to think about the design and content. Plan your build and consider some very important elements.
Be inspired by dashboards around and across different industries.
So it's common sense to understand that different industries report on different metrics. You will also have a degree of familiarity of your very own data and metrics. However, what's really great is to stop and just take a look around at what other people are doing. Have a look at other industries, different sectors. What do they report on? How do they do it? What kind of viz might they use? You don't necessarily need to understand the granularity of their reporting...but...you might just find something that grabs you and makes you think to yourself - "Wow...that's awesome, I've not seen it done like that before"
Personally, I love to compose visualisations with a degree of flair. To me, it's about creating art as well as providing function. Don't get me wrong...there's a time and a place for the awesome, you may be under clear instruction to provide basic, functional dashboards which serve their purpose perfectly well, without the bells and whistles. But! Outside of that...why not add some creativity into the mix and have fun building something that is nice to look at too! Take the composition above, I really like the use of BANs (Big Ass Numbers) here mixed with a handful of charts...with the main attraction being quite obvious. It gives the user the numbers they need but it does so in a creative way.
Seeing this, and you think...no reason why one can't create something similar.
It's not just the visuals that can inspire you but also the methodology behind the metrics. You may find a dashboard which compares categorical data by use of colour - or shape. You might think this doesn't work for what you want...however, give it a try. You can most definitely use colour and other such things on the marks card to compare elements against others.
There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from others. If you have that Wow moment and can do so, you might consider making contact with whoever inspired you. Explain what it was about their work that you liked and how it inspired you. Giving credit / praise for someones work is the right thing to do in my opinion. Plus, you never know what might happen thereafter. Great relationships with people can build from but a single comment.
And now I'm babbling...onto the next point.
Don't neglect / ignore your dashboard real estate.
With each dashboard you compose, you will only have so much space - assuming you are following visual analytics practices. Using fewer objects on your dashboard is a great idea, it is also great to ensure each element tells it's own story. With that, it can be easy to leave objects such as filters or legends in places whereby the dashboard alignment squeezes what's important into a smaller space.
Above, I put together a quick dashboard, leaving filters out on the right and just not really taking the care to ensure I use the 'canvas' properly. It looks a mess and I would not want this to be a finished product. Why not consider using the viz itself as the filter via dashboard actions? Get rid of that list. At the very least - change the filter behavior to perhaps a dropdown menu and float it?
Below, I made a couple of quick changes, updated the actions on my dashboard, floated the legend and just resized / realigned the sheets. Now it looks so much cleaner, organised and thoughtful. Yes, there is still whitespace on the canvas but this is much more of a finished product than the first example.
I'll wrap this one up now for this week. I hope you found this blog post useful. Next week, I shall add another couple of tips on the Do's and Don'ts of creating dashboards.
If you'd like to find out more about how Promatix can help you with Tableau, please do send us a message!