Sofie Bentkjær is a data consultant at Inviso by Devoteam. She helps companies understand their data through dashboards and visualizations.
Download our free “User story for data visualization” template and build better dashboards.
Visualizing data is a powerful means of making sense of the data, but also to communicate what has been discovered.
The human mind is very visual. Which our long history of visualizations tells us. Ever since man had to fight for survival, strategies have been illustrated on cave walls of how to hunt predators.
You might think that millions of years of practice would have made it easy to visualize our thoughts, but for most of us, it’s still not second nature.
Considering all aspects of the design process can actually be quite difficult – but if you get it right, it can certainly help you communicate your findings clearer and more compelling.
As a rule of thumb, here are a few things that you need to take into account when creating a dashboard, and can help you create a visualization that tells the story behind the data.
- Who’s you audience?Your audience of the dashboard is one of the most important considerations when creating a dashboard. You have to know who’s going to use the dashboard and what they hope to get out of it. When you know your audience, you know what information will make them understand the situation the best. Make sure you make it easy for them to see the key take-aways at a glance. Bring key points to the top – don’t hide them behind clicks or deep dives.
- Don’t forget to KISS (keep it simple, stupid)Don’t try to fit every information into one single dashboard. Keep a maximum of four views (if possible) in each dashboard. If you do have more information you would like to present, consider making multiple dashboards.
- Tell a storyUse the dashboard to tell a story. By framing the information as a story, the understanding of the data would be greater. So, remember that people read dashboards as books, reading from left to right. Clearly state what story you are telling and what questions will be answered. Put the most important things first, and let the details of the story unfold afterwards.
A tool for you: “User Story for Data Visualization”
In Inviso by Devoteam we have developed a template helping to structure and prepare for creating a dashboard and to make sure all parts in the process of designing a dashboard is considered.
You are free to use this template in any way it helps you, but one way it could be used is to be brought along at kick-off meetings before you start creating the dashboard and to be a tool for structuring thoughts and alignment.
You can download the template here.
An example of how the template could be filled out.
How to use the template
First, you scope the target users. If there are multiple target users and they don’t share the same goals, you might consider creating a dashboard for each target group.
Next you narrow down the purpose of the dashboard. Consider what the users want to see, what is relevant for their specific position, and what can help them in understanding the data best?
You should reflect upon what should be visualized, in what categories, and what can make it easy to understand. Also, is there any other information that could be relevant and should be looked further into?
Lastly, write what sources should be used in the dashboard.
Try Tableau and join free training
If you want to get inspiration in how to visualize data and make your own dashboard, then please join our free virtual Tableau introduction. They are free to join and fully virtual. See the next ones coming up here.
By the way, data visualization get’s better (and more fun) when you collaborate on it. So feel free to bring a colleague along!