Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Tips for Designing Interactive Dashboards in Tableau: TechnoServe’s Results Portal

Updated on: Dec 19th, 2017
Dashboards
, , , , , ,

As we were wrapping TechnoServe’s 2016 Impact Report, I also began consulting on TechnoServe’s Results Portal. The Results Portal is an interactive, web-based dashboard that’s embedded within TechnoServe’s website at http://www.technoserve.org/our-work/impact#portal.

For the first time, TechnoServe’s beneficiaries, partners, donors, and prospective donors can view key stats about TechnoServe’s projects. TechnoServe is offering their data to the public, not because they have to, but because they want to. What’s not to admire about an organization that’s committed to transparency and information-sharing?

The portal includes a map of the countries and regions where TechnoServe works…

The portal includes a map of the countries and regions where TechnoServe works.

…and results by country and by project.

The portal includes results by country and by project.

There are three features that make TechnoServe’s Results Portal easy to navigate:

  • Consistent color-coding and icons by category;
  • Consistent navigation; and a
  • Consistent text hierarchy.

Consistent Color-Coding and Icons by Category

I like color-coding by category within a single document. I love color-coding across multiple documents and projects.

Remember TechnoServe’s 2016 Impact Report, which I showed you last time? They reported on three key variables: financial benefits, beneficiaries, and finance mobilized. Throughout the entire 16-page report, information about financial benefits was always displayed in green with the icon of the hand holding paper currency. Information about beneficiaries was always displayed in purple with an icon of several farmers standing together. And information about finance mobilized was always displayed in turquoise with the line graph icon.

We repeated the same colors and icons throughout the Results Portal, too. Can you spot the icons, terms, and definitions in the opening screen of the Results Portal? We added a fourth variable to this project, too. TechnoServe wanted to emphasize how many beneficiaries were female, so information about percent women was displayed in orange.

I like color-coding by category within a single document. I love color-coding across multiple documents and projects. Remember TechnoServe’s 2016 Impact Report, which I showed you last time? They reported on three key variables: financial benefits, beneficiaries, and finance mobilized. Throughout the entire 16-page report, information about financial benefits was always displayed in green with the icon of the hand holding paper currency. Information about beneficiaries was always displayed in purple with an icon of several farmers standing together. And information about finance mobilized was always displayed in turquoise with the line graph icon. We repeated the same colors and icons throughout the Results Portal, too. Can you spot the icons, terms, and definitions in the opening screen of the Results Portal? We added a fourth variable to this project, too. TechnoServe wanted to emphasize how many beneficiaries were female, so information about percent women was displayed in orange.

2016 Impact Report (left) and Results Portal (right)

We also worked on a third product, a series of Google Sheets dashboards that were designed for TechnoServe’s internal audiences. Those dashboards aren’t public. But yes, you guessed it, the internal dashboards follow the same color-coding. Financial benefits are green, beneficiaries are purple, percent women is orange, and finance mobilized is turquoise.

Consistent Navigation

Tableau allows you to insert drill-down menus just about anywhere: in the upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right, or middle of the page.

In earlier drafts, our lists of countries and projects that viewers could explore were in different places on different screens. We placed the lists wherever we found blank space and could squeeze them in.

In the final version, we intentionally placed the lists in the upper left corners. In Western cultures, we read beginning in the upper left corner and then read across and down in a z-shaped pattern. That’s why we placed the country and project lists in the upper left corner—because it’s the most valuable real estate on the page.

Our goal was to make navigation seamless. We wanted viewers to focus on interpreting the data, not on interpreting the dashboard.

Consistent Text Hierarchy

Do you really need font in size 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18?

Sometimes, software programs give you too many different font sizes. You insert a chart and there are different sizes for the title, subtitle, axis labels, numeric labels, and category labels.

Other times, dashboard designers create too many different font sizes. We’re not sure what our final product will look like. We experiment. We try a graph title in size 12 on one screen and a graph title in size 13 on another screen. We try a body font in black on one screen and dark gray on another screen. We try a page title in bold on one screen and italic on another screen.

In the final version of the Results Portal, we paid careful attention to fonts, sizes, colors, and styles. We built a consistent text hierarchy. A text hierarchy tells your viewers which information is at the top of the food chain. The most important information is largest, the information that’s of medium importance is a medium size, and the regular ol’ body font is the smallest size.

Consistent text hierarchies across screens make you look polished and professional. More importantly, text hierarchies make your viewers’ job of interpreting the information faster and easier.

Has your organization built a public-facing dashboard like TechnoServe yet? Link to your websites here!

More about Ann K. Emery
Ann K. Emery is a sought-after speaker who is determined to get your data out of spreadsheets and into stakeholders’ hands. Each year, she leads more than 100 workshops, webinars, and keynotes for thousands of people around the globe. Her design consultancy also overhauls graphs, publications, and slideshows with the goal of making technical information easier to understand for non-technical audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You Might Like

Our complimentary mini course for beginners to dataviz. Takes 45 minutes to complete.

Enroll

Visualizing 24 School Divisions’ Submissions with a Dashboard in Microsoft Excel

Amadu Sidi Bah encountered a forgotten folder on the shared drive: “Stakeholder Submissions.” These text-heavy reports had been left to gather dust. He wanted to make sure the stakeholders’ recommendations were used in policy decisions, and he decided to do something about it. In this blog post, you’ll see the Excel-based dashboard that Amadu created from those 24 reports.

More »

Want to wow your boss with a dynamic dashboard? Or, how about a one-pager of key findings? Our 4-course bundle provides all the how-to’s.

Enroll

Subscribe

Not another fluffy newsletter. Get actionable tips, videos and strategies from Ann in your inbox.