Welcome to my second entry of the Don’t Be Me series where I go through my mistakes that I have learned during my training at the Data School Down Under and I hope that anyone who does read this can avoid these mistakes. The following discussion here relates to Part 2 of my Project Starter Blog so I recommend checking out that blog as well to get the full scope on my take about story telling with data.

In my experience so far, I had realised that one area that I could improve on is giving a dashboard purpose. What I mean by this is that often I would create a dashboard with no particular end user in mind, leaving it without a story to tell or an explanation of the data.

Why give it purpose? – A birthday cake analogy

Once you’ve prepared the data, it can be easy to get straight to making a dashboard and then test out the functionality of what you built. After spending some time pondering about it, I associated it with making a birthday cake for someone. It has a clear purpose with a particular person that it has been designed for.

Baking a birthday cake for someone’s birthday has purpose.

  • Designed for someone in mind
  • The intention is to have people gather to celebrate their birthday and notice it’s significance
  • It has an important part in the story of a person’s life

Now, how does creating a dashboard with data relate to this?

  • Dashboard was designed for an end user
  • It could be used to help explore the data or generate actionable insight that is significant for the users
  • It tells a story about the data

So when you take out the birthday in the birthday cake situation, it is just a cake that lacks some purpose but still delicious to consume. A dashboard that has all the perfect ingredients but lacks purpose becomes less useful.

How to give it purpose? – Some ideas to keep in mind

  • Who is it for?
  • What do they need to know?
  • How can they use it to find what they need to know?
  • Why would it be important to them?

Thanks for reading and just Don’t Be Me!

Next time when you create a dashboard have these thoughts in mind so you can avoid to make the same mistakes as I did. Keep an eye out for my next blog forĀ Don’t Be Me, where I will explore handling time management for short deadlines. See you next time!

Kier Bituin
Author: Kier Bituin