A Dozen Ways to Improve Dashboard Design (9-12)

By: Eric Parker

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Eric lives in Seattle and has been teaching Tableau and Alteryx for 5 years. He's helped thousands of students solve their most pressing problems. If you have a question, feel free to reach out to him directly via email.

This blog post is a continuation of a previous post. If you haven’t read the previous posts, check out steps 1-4 or steps 5-8.

 

9. Color and Hide Worksheet Tabs

I have a few Tableau workbooks with dozens of dashboards and 100+ worksheets. That becomes a lot to manage and looks really cumbersome to an end user. You can see in this example we’ve got a single dashboard and five worksheets:

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Since they are all related, we can shift-select them all, right-click, and make all the tabs a uniform color.

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Since I created a “View in Tooltip” scenario where hovering over the first bar chart shows the tree map, I’m going to right click on the bar chart worksheet tab and select “Hide Sheets”.

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Now the last worksheet is hidden. Next, we can right-click on the dashboard tab and hide all the other worksheets.

Notice how much cleaner the worksheet tab experience is now:

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You generally want to save this step until you aren’t editing the worksheets much anymore. Even though it’s easy to unhide the sheets, it’s a hassle to have to do it more than necessary.


10. Add Footers

Footers are a nice design element and can help provide a little extra information if you’d rather put it directly in a dashboard instead of tucked away in an info button. Here’s an example:

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Be careful that the colors of the footer (whether the border of background shading) don’t clash with other colors used throughout the dashboard.


11. Drill Through for Detail

If you have too much information on a single dashboard, it’s worth considering breaking that information into multiple dashboards. For instance, maybe I’d like to be able to select a department and then see some more detailed information about that department. That’s great but there isn’t a lot of room left on this dashboard.

The best approach in that case is to create a second dashboard that the first can filter to. It ends up looking like this.

First dashboard (notice the hyperlink in the tooltip which points to the second dashboard):

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Second dashboard (filtered down to the selection from the first dashboard):

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12. Consistent Dashboard Design

The last step to improving design is to have a consistent look and feel across dashboards. Try to have worksheets and actions set up in similar ways. One easy way to do this is to duplicate the first dashboard you create and use that as a template for future dashboards. One inconsistency between these dashboards is the look of the titles. Notice (in the previous images) how in the first dashboard it only extends across half the screen and on the second dashboard it extends the whole way.

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Small tweaks like that can make a big difference over time. The more consistent the look, the more official and professional they will feel.

 

Want to learn more dashboarding design tips? Check out our newest workshop; Tableau Dashboarding: From Mystery to Mastery.