During the dashboard week, we were free to design our dashboard however we wanted. There were no requirements given, so we just put anything, but all were using the same data source. It did not matter whether it was insight-rich or not, but as long as there was a dashboard. I only picked a few insights for my dashboard, built a story from it and focused on the design.

Here are two of my dashboards. I spend most of my time on prettifying the background. 

The background is based on what the dataset is all about. On the first dashboard, the data is about UFOs, so I designed a background that appears like the space with dust particles. The second dashboard is about a TV series called Stranger Things, so I designed a background that imitates some of the scenes that were shown on the show.

In this blog, I will teach you a few tricks I learnt during the dashboard week.


What do you need?

1. License-free images
2. Image Editing Tools – background remover, opacity reducer, and colour changer

If you don’t know where to get free images or do not have editing tools, here are a few links where you can download free images and get free editing tools:

To get free images:
  1. https://pixabay.com/
  2. https://www.freeimages.com/
  3. Google images. This is a trick that one of my colleagues taught me. Search for an image on Google, for example, this marsupial animal, aka Koala.  First, click on tools then creative commons licenses. The results should give images that you can use without getting into trouble with copyright. If you’re still unsure whether to use an image or not, just make sure that you’re giving credits to the image owner.

To get free online-editing tools:

Here are some of the online tools I personally used for my dashboards. They are just as good as paid editing software.

1. https://www.remove.bg/ removes background. For example:

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2. https://www4.lunapic.com/editor/?action=alpha-transparency reduces opacity. For example:

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3. https://pinetools.com/colorize-imagecolourises the image. For example:

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An Example On How I Designed My Background

If you want to be a bit artistic on your dashboard, background is one of the biggest things in which you can put the most design on. When I make my dashboards, I always begin with choosing the background color. I prefer dull or less intense colours because they generally put less strain on the eyes. When choosing an image for your background, choose the ones that have less objects so that it wouldn’t be too distracting for the viewers.

Step 1: Reduce image opacity

You would want to do this to reduce the visibility of the objects. On this example, the objects are the trees and moon.

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Step 2: Apply a background colour in Tableau that blends with the image that we edited on the previous step

For this example, I chose a grey background because it blends well with the image.

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Optional Step: Apply another layer of image that adds more details

For this one, I added a layer of smoke on top so that it has a visible smoky effect. It also brightened up the overall background a little bit. I made sure that I removed the background of the smoke image and reduced it’s opacity so that when I put that on top, it would look like it’s part of the base layer.

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You probably have now the idea on how to make a background a bit artistic. You’re goal is to reduce opacity, remove backgrounds, and experiment with colours that blends well with your images.

Change image colours to the colour theme of your dashboard

If you have additional images to add, for example, on my UFO dashboard, the little UFO icons were originally blue but I changed that to red because that is my colour theme. You can use https://www4.lunapic.com/editor/?action=changecolor to do that for free.
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That is all for this blog, I hope you picked up some few ideas on how to design your dashboard.

The Data School
Author: The Data School