As we all know, effective design is crucial for Tableau dashboards. At the Data School, we learned how to make our data visualizations more dynamic and well-received by diverse audiences. Here are some tips from my experience in client projects using Tableau to generate a user-friendly and interactive visualization.

  • Simplify your use of colour and the choose your colours wisely

Colour is important. It can impact our moods and also be a source of information. However, there’s a delicate balance to using colour; keeping it simple is best. When I started designing the dashboards, overusing colour happened a lot, but soon, I found that too much colour cluttered my message. Instead of using too much colour, try to use intuitive minimum colours that make sense to the audience, which will also help them process the information faster.

It is also worth mentioning that an individual’s response to colour can stem from personal experience. In some Asian countries, red represents happiness, well-being, and good fortune, while in Western countries, it’s the colour of fire and blood, as well as being associated with love. So, it’s always important to consider the context and the audience.

Red represents happiness, wellbeing, and good fortune in China

  • Don’t Be Tempted by Fancy Chart Types

You can use Tableau to make fancy charts, and even Tableau’s “show me” functionality can generate some assorted, flashy charts to choose from.

However, in most cases, bar and line graphs are still the most effective ways to convey information. These simple chart types are still how many people can relate to visualized data, and chances are your end users are not mathematical physicists expecting four-dimensional graphs. You can use exciting bubble, tree charts and other fancy charts ONLY if they are the most effective at conveying the information.

Additionally, be prepared to make a lot of bad graphs to get a great one. It’s part of your creative process and usually starts with outside-the-box visualizations before selecting a few suitable formats.

To help you choose the right representation type for the chart, ask yourself these questions:

– How many variables do you want to show in a single chart?

– Will you display values over a period of time or among items or groups?

How many data points are needed to display each variable?

Please click here to find Andy Kriebel’s Visual Vocabulary in tableau public.

  • Remove extra stuff and use minimal formatting

To have a clearer view of your chart and let the audience focus on the information you want to convey, getting rid of extraneous lines, tick marks, and boxes in and around charts can be a good practice. The extra stuff crowds the data you want people to focus on. Plus, minimal formatting looks clean and polished. Below it’s an example after removing extra stuff and using minimal formatting:

This is the first part of this blog. In the second part, I’ll cover the usage of the tooltips and the reasons why we need to keep the scope of our dashboards tight.


The Data School
Author: The Data School