Dashboard Design recap

by Alex Muntus

“Always learning” is possibly how I’d some up my time so far at the Data School if I only had two words. I’d also go for “Fun learning”. Every day seems to bring a myriad of interesting things to absorb, some more complex than others. Strangely, some of the simplest things I have learnt so far I have found just as cool as some of the more powerful and complex tools.

Yesterday we spent most of the day going through Dashboard design with Coach Kriebel. Most of the material was a welcome refresher but we all picked up new tricks along the way and certainly designing a dashboard in the afternoon using superstore sales. I was questioning every little detail to a much greater detail than previously and given an hour to build a simple dashboard, we all ended up spending two just refining and refining. Even then, I still wanted more time but we could have been there all afternoon and it was great to see what everyone else came up with. As usual given the same task, the variety was brilliant. Tableau’s rapid building capability and user-friendliness means that even in a couple of hours, users can head off in dissimilar directions and build extremely different dashboards enabling them to quickly express their creativity.

So just a few tips for dashboard design.

  • Keep it simple. When building a dashboard, start as simple as possible. What is the message you want to convey?
  • Keep stripping away. Anything that does not add any value can be stripped away. After spending an hour creating my dashboard yesterday, I spent an hour just taking stuff out, this goes right down to gridlines.
  • Have your target audience at the forefront when designing your dashboard. Make everything super clear. If your audience can’t understand any particular part of it within 5/10 seconds, then it’s not clear enough.

So a quick tip which I learnt yesterday from Andy – rotating labels. Often when I display charts with long labels, I have these on the y axis but if for a particular reason it is better to have on the x axis (eg month name) then it would be useful to rotate these. Here’s how it’s done.

rotate label 1

If in doubt, right click. In this case on the axis labels.

rotate label 2

And select rotate label.

rotate label 3

Quick, simple tip but certainly useful.