Day 3’s theme is all about visual design.

Before giving us the challenge, Shane Dooley from MIP shared with us 3 key design principles for building effective dashboards. First, I will share with your those 3 principles and then I outline how I applied these principles to the dashboard that I designed for this challenge.

The 3 Dashboard Design Principles:

(1) Composition and Layout

  • The dashboard must have enough breathing space, which is referred to as negative space.
  • The dashboard must also follow the F-Pattern, which is most relevant for western and English-speaking audiences. In short, we consume content by following an F-shape pattern and therefore it is wise to locate your most important elements on the left-hand side, with the most critical piece to your message/story/purpose of the dashboard, centred in the middle.

More about visual design and use of F-pattern in dashboards here.

(2) Typography

  • Use fonts strategically. There are 4 broad categories of the font;
  • Serif
  • Sans Serif
  • Script
  • Modern

The font you choose depends on your audience, the context (e.g business presentation) and the story/message you are communicating.

More about effective use of fonts here

(3) Colour

Be selective and strategic when choosing your colours.  Match the theme, which can be a corporate brand or a topic such as “The Modern Olympic Games”. Make sure that your dashboard is not crowded with 10,000 colours. Use varying hues of the same colour and 2-3 colours to communicate distinct categories. You can also apply contrast to highlight key messages, thereby placing other relevant content/data points in the background.

The Dashboard

You can access the dashboard on Tableau Public here.

Here is how I applied the design principles:

  • I chose a modern corporate looking font called Dubai Medium/Light.
  • I added padding to dashboard elements to create negative space.
  • I have located the most important items on the left. For instance, the order of the metric cards at the top was placed in the order of importance, based on the brief we were given for this dashboard. Because this is a regional sales dashboard, I have placed the map in the middle because this is where I want to draw the user’s attention; since the map not only contains critical KPIs but is used to filter all the other dashboard elements to offer a regional outlook on performance.


Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this challenge. Although, there are many improvements that I would like to implement. Some of them are:

  • Adding line charts to the tooltip for every metric card. By doing this, I could remove the line chart at the bottom, making the dashboard less busy.
  • Allow the user to swap map views between profit and sales – which in turn changes the metric for the bar chart on the right to be profit by categories.





Fabrice Joseph
Author: Fabrice Joseph

Originally from Mauritius, Fabrice moved to Australia to complete a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) at the University of Queensland. Since graduating, Fabrice accumulated 7+ years of experience in primarily management accounting roles and a couple of entrepreneurial projects. Having encountered data in the accounting profession, Fabrice had developed a passion for analysing data, extracting insights and findings ways to improve his workflow. Such is his passion for data that he has data projects as hobbies. Data School was the natural next step for him to launch his career in data. Besides data, Fabrice has other interests such as yoga, reading books on ancient history and philosophy.