The dashboard is the main element of communication between the report developer and his or her audience. A dashboard can be called a common screen to which all necessary views, filters, comments, headings, legends, and other interactive elements are added. A dashboard creates a complete picture for users, explaining and showing the data in an accessible and, even more important, in a digestible format. The compact layout of the charts allows you to evaluate the data at a glance instead of viewing multiple sheets in a written multi-page report.

The term dashboard comes from engineering („dashboard“ in aircraft, cars etc. showing all the necessary controls on one panel). In the same manner as the dashboards in machinery, a dashboard in analytics does show all the important data on a single screen.

The process of building a dashboard

So, as I mentioned the dashboard in Tableau is a collection of visualizations from several Worksheets. A dashboard allows us to visually assemble several charts and graphs in one place, adding context and explanation.

It is important to note that when adding sheets to a dashboard – you can not edit sheets directly on the dashboard. Only the dashboard itself can be edited on the dashboard. To make changes on the charts themselves, go to the original sheet with a diagram. All changes will be automatically transferred to the dashboard.

The technical process of building a dashboard in Tableau can be briefly described as follows:

  • New dashboard sheet creation
  • Setting the required size (width and height in pixels) and dashboard type (fixed size, automatic, range size). The automatic dashboard adapts to any screen on which it is going to be opened.
  • Choice of the way to create a dashboard. Note the choice of Tiled/Floating at the bottom left of the screen. Tiled (by default) is a tiled mode and floating is a free layout mode for worksheets.
  • Selecting the required sheets on the left side of the screen and dragging them to the dashboard
  • Adding other contextual dashboard elements (legends, titles…)
  • If necessary, setting up filters and actions (interactive actions by clicking or hovering the mouse)

When creating dashboards, try to pay attention to its layout, appearance and the way people will perceive dashboards. Where will they look at in the very beginning? What will then attract their attention? Will they understand what is shown on the dashboard at a glance or do they need additional caption marks? What conclusion should they draw from the dashboard? What impression will they have on the dashboard? Unfortunately, very few people think about these aspects while creating dashboards. It’s time to change such a kind of approach! Let’s all just  focus on it together! So all we need at first is:

  • thoughtful approach to design
  • conscious choice of visualizations on a single dashboard in accordance with the purpose for the relating business and of course the task it has to solve.

To achieve the desired result in a conscious approach to work with the dashboards it is also necessary to gain the maximum amount of information about the client and his or her requirements. Of course, we won’t be able to list all the aspects within the framework of this particular topic. But I’m happy to announce that we’re definitely going to talk about conceptual and methodological approaches to dashboard creation in the following parts of the blog. Until then feel free to visit the official Tableau website for the further information and please check the link below:

Below is an example of an eye tracking map of a dashboard – a study about what sections of a dashboard usually attract the most attention. The warmer is the color – the greater is the „viewing“ index. It’s for you to think about what patterns of observing a dashboard do we have in common…?