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Matt C Atkins
March 15, 2019

Tableau Dashboards - The Do's and Don'ts (Part 5)

In this final post of this blog series, I talk about personalising your dashboards for your audience and helping to drive your users from the start.



green tick_smallConsider your audience and make it personal


When you design and build a dashboard, you want it to be insightful and impactful, but at the same time you want it to be meaningful to the user so they can relate and internalise the information.  There are numerous ways this can be done.


One way you could do this, is to include the user in the visualisation.  If you can design a dashboard that makes it easier for the user to compare themselves against others in their organisation or industry, the level of engagement will be much more favourable.  Also, I personally, quite like to add user portraits to the viz if there is to be bespoke information presented.  It just adds that little personal touch and in my experience is very well received!


By emphasising the users own experience, they can really start to better understand how the rest of the data pertains to them and could well lead them to asking other, more pertinent questions. 


I have taken the following example from the Tableau whitepaper as again, this really does demonstrate the point.  First, we have a very bland dashboard, although informative to a can be improved dramatically!



The technical support team had a specific purpose for their dashboard; to engage and motivate a close-knit team to work towards climbing the ranks of a leaderboard.  As you'll see below, not only does the revised dashboard utilise the user's name and image, but by using video game elements and vibrant speaks to the user directly and keeps them focused.  Ultimately, this design approach really depends on your relationship and knowledge of the audience and knowing what's appropriate.  



The new version of this dashboard is now much more interesting to look at and engaging for the user.  As a result, the user is more motivated to close more cases and see their performance recorded in a cool fashion.   


Visual Analysis Best Practices: A Guidebook

red cross_smallDon't assume your audience knows where to start


Now, this is certainly one that I used to be guilty of in the early days!  Build what you consider to be a truly resplendent dashboard, only for your users to be puzzled and wondering how they're going to say to you;


"It looks great...but what do I do??!?"


If it is indeed the first time your audience has seen your masterpiece, they might not know where to start or how to interact with this magnificent beast.  It could even be the first time your audience has engaged with Tableau.  Yes, Tableau is all about visualising data but the real art of this is to also make it simple for the user and to really guide them to answers (and questions) and help them reach conclusions efficiently and correctly. 


With dashboards, you can add Actions, but these are not 'visible' to the user a lot of the time.  They might stumble upon something because the cursor changed or they clicked on something, assuming/hoping it might do something magical.  Don't let this be your user experience or 'UX'.  


Simple things like adding appropriate titles to your filters, or directions in a title bar.  Composing your dashboard so that each section leads to the next.  Driving the gaze of the user is very subtle but achievable with placement of images and such.  A line of text to inform the user of how to interact with the dash is also very effective. 


The below example is one of my #MakeoverMonday builds.  There are several ways to interact with this dashboard in order to filter and drill down to the information you want.  It's not abundantly clear however, how you might do this.  Okay yes, to an experienced Tableau person - probably - but for a newbie, maybe not so much.  



With the below adjustments, I've added a couple of text fields to direct users and also added highlight actions to the indicators at the top and to the year selectors.  There is also a dynamic title in the bottom right, which when blank, now advises the user to click an option from the top.  So, you can see the 'assistance' is not overbearing and is enough to help guide someone on how this dashboard works. 



Matt_JediWell chums, that was my last post for this series.


Keep on trucking with your own Tableau journeys and farewell for now padawans.  I wish you every success! :) 


If you'd like to find out more about how Promatix can help you with Tableau, please do send us a message! 


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