When it comes to putting together a Tableau dashboard, free space can often be a scarce commodity. In this blog I’m going to give you four tips on how you can best use the limited space you have in order to avoid missing out on those extra details you’ll want to add to your dashboard.

1. Dual Axis and Sharing Existing Axes

Using a dual axis is an excellent (and easy) way to half the amount of room needed for two charts by combing them into one. You can take this one step further by adding in another chart that shares a common axis to eliminate the need for space for another axis header and tick marks. Below you can see how one chart can essentially contain the information of three and what that would look like without using this method.

 

A lot of wasted space right?

Here’s a quick guide on how to achieve this look.

Place the two measures you want on a dual axis on either column or row side by side. Then right click and simply choose “Dual Axis”.

To add another chart that shares an axis simply place the measure of interest next to your two measures on a dual axis like so.

And that’s all it takes! Easy right?

 

2. Using Parameters as Filters

So, you might have a dataset with multiple dimensions of interest and you want to visualise a chart for each dimension. Well, this can require a lot of space, especially if you want to really focus on one or more of these charts. There’s an easy fix to this; create parameters to use as filters so users can alternate between views as at the click of a button. Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide on how to create filters based off parameters.

Create a parameter and name it appropriately (this name will be the default title for your parameter filter when viewed in the dashboard). Set “Data Type” to “Integer” and “Allowable Values” to “List”. Now in the “Value” column of your list type in numbers starting from 1 to as many dimensions as you would like to show. In the “Display As” column type in the name of one dimension next to each value. It should look like this:

Click “Ok” and you now have your parameter. Right click your parameter on the bottom left of your screen to choose “Show Parameter”.

Now you need to create a calculation in order for your parameter to work as a filter, it should look like this:

In your calculation you should replace the purple text with the name of your parameter and the orange text with your dimensions. Each number represents a value that you typed into your parameter and the orange text represents the corresponding dimension you typed next to it.

Now use this calculation as a dimension when you build your chart, like this:

You can format your parameter that you previous clicked to show to your liking and it should now work as a filter for what dimension is being viewed.

3. Utilising Tooltips for Extra Information

You might have a dashboard that requires a lot of descriptive text, but putting loads of text into a dashboard can create clutter and make it less user friendly. One way to avoid this is by utilising tooltips to their fullest. This will only be a quick look into what tooltips can accomplish, if you want more information on how to achieve this you can look here.

You can go to edit your tooltips here:

Once you click this you’ll open a dialog box that looks like this:

In this dialog box you can write whatever you like and format it using the options at the top, this will then show when you hover over a value in a chart. However, there’s more to tooltips than that! In the top right you’ll notice an “Insert” button. This is how you can make your tooltips dynamic by inserting dimensions, measures and parameters that will change according to the value you hover over. You can also insert other sheets in order to show relevant charts within your tooltips.

This is a great way to reduce how much space you’re taking up on your dashboard, but still retain all the necessary information when users go looking for it!

 

4. Ink to Data Ratio

What do I mean when I say ink to data ratio? Well, the concept was first introduced by Edward Tufte, and refers to the notion that everything you put on a dashboard should be a necessity. When you’re putting together a Tableau dashboard you should ask yourself as you add charts and features whether they add any value to what you’re trying to convey. Sure the dashboard might look more visually appealing with a huge map in there, but if that map you really like doesn’t actually add anything to the story you’re trying to tell then you’ve simply wasted space that could have been used for something more important. This is my final tip on how to save space; think twice about everything you put in your dashboard, if it doesn’t add any true value to what you’re trying to convey to your audience then take it out!

 

What You Should Take Away From This

So what have I covered in this blog? I’ve shown you three technical ways you can maximise the space you have in a dashboard to make it as user friendly as possible, and I’ve also left you with one very important tip on how you should approach putting your dashboard together. By utilising these tips you can avoid wasted space in your Tableau dashboards.

 

 

Patrick Breis
Author: Patrick Breis