Designing Great Dashboards

Function over form. This is the mantra repeated by all great dashboard and report developers, and for good reason. But does this principle mean that form should suffer? And could it be possible to extract function from form? I posit that, in many cases, form is function. In particular, the application of User Experience (UX) principles can enhance the usability of a dashboard and, ultimately, improve the…

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Data Freshness labels: How to enhance trust in your dashboards

The recency of the data your dashboard is displaying can be one of the most important pieces metadata on a dashboard. Users of dashboards will undoubtedly, at some point in time, have the question go through their mind: “I wonder when this data is from?” or similar. They will want to know the recency of the data, or the Data Freshness. Using The Right Dates…

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Mimicking Drop Shadow on Popup Boxes in Tableau

Tableau, while allowing a great range of formatting options, is limited in options specifically for making things look nicer. Well, that isn’t entirely fair; but there are a lot of things it can’t do that people who are graphic designers at heart would love it to be able to. For example, you can’t round corners. You can’t edit formatting of input boxes and dropdowns. You…

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Setting parameter values based on other parameters using Actions and custom buttons

In the world of Tableau, the power of Parameters is well known. Parameters can be used for a plethora of ways to enhance interactivity and user experience, but sometimes you run in to situations where the feature set surrounding Parameters doesn’t quite meet your needs. However, with recent(ish) additions of Parameter Actions, there are many more creative ways you can get around these. This article…

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Data-Ink: Applications in Modern Business Analytics

“Data-Ink?” you say? It’s an odd name, I agree, but what it represents is fundamental to excelling in visual analytics. Data-Ink is a concept introduced by Edward Tufte in his 1983 classic The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. In it, he states “Data-ink is the non-erasable core of the graphic, the non-redundant ink arranged in response to variation in the numbers represented.” Tufte asserts that,…

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How to Improve a War Board

War boards are commonplace in the modern data-driven business these days. They’re a powerful tool to help spot trends, find anomalies, track progress, and satisfy one’s hunger for numbers. What are war boards? They are the dashboards shown on large screens (often TVs) around a work space. They hang on the wall and, usually, only show high level summary information for at-a-glance insights. The Problem…

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