Tableau Dashboards that Captivate & Communicate

May 30, 2019


Characteristics of Well-Designed, Interactive Dashboards

Movie previews, elevator pitches and…Tableau visualizations. They all give you a small window to capture audience attention. And, you can as easily lose your audience by overloading them with info as by underwhelming them. Tableau makes it incredibly easy to create exploratory dashboards, but not all dashboards are created equal. Why do some really engage users while others fall flat and get no traction?

In this webinar recording, we look at the specific characteristics of well-designed dashboards. Calling upon our years of experience in Tableau development, we share best practices and offer concrete, real-life dashboard design examples. You will be able to apply the concepts learned in this webinar to your own visualizations, understanding what design elements to consider and what to avoid.




Kyle Biehle
Tableau Solutions Architect
Senturus, Inc.

Kyle is a Tableau Solutions Architect at Senturus and has over 20 years of experience in data analytics, with 11 of those years working with Tableau. Kyle is focused on helping clients use Tableau in novel and efficient ways by helping them see and interact with their data in ways they hadn’t before.


  • What is an interactive dashboard?
    • The visual display of information that provides users with an initial overview of a dataset and allows users to easily explore, interrogate and compare the data to gain additional insight and understanding.
  • Characteristics of well-designed interactive dashboards
    • Visual
    • Intuitive
    • Comprehensive
    • Clean/efficient
    • Consistent
    • Immersive
    • Inexhaustible
    • Most importantly: Always Be Comparing
  • Why should we visualize data?
    • Make comparisons
    • Identify trends
  • Everyone’s first dashboard looks pretty much the same
  • Preattentive attributes of visual perception
  • For the category binders, which state had the highest sales and how many states had a negative profit?
  • Select the right chart(s) to convey your message
    • Challenge: let’s try to find all possible ways to visualize a ludicrously small data set
      • Just two numbers 75 and 37
      • Then pick which is the best visualization
    • Comparison test: which region did technology products represent the highest percentage of sales?
    • Context is key
      • Compared to what?
      • Be accurate and honest
    • Use of color
      • Avoid using color if a label will do
      • Limit the use of color – less is more
      • Be consistent in use of categorical color and don’t re-use the same colors
      • Use of continuous colors based on measures – especially percentages
      • Use bright colors sparingly – especially red
    • Dashboard tips
      • Keep it simple
      • More is often less and less is often more
      • Ask what each chart is contributing to insight
    • Know your audience
      • Only include the data that they need to accomplish their defining task
      • Make interactions intuitive and immersive
        • Encode your dashboard with click-actions to keep the user in the flow
        • Adding sales goals and prior year values provides meaningful context and comparison values in one chart
      • Use parameters to simplify views and maximize exploratory options
      • Each element should contribute to the enhancement of the whole
        • Should be aesthetically pleasing: clean, not cluttered
        • Should be intuitive: you should “get” how the pieces fit together
        • Each element should meet a specific need
        • Each should offer something different that enhances the understanding of the whole
        • Create a consistent look and feel for your dashboards
      • Summary
        • Use chart types your audience will understand without explanation
        • Make the interactions intuitive – anticipate the next question
        • Don’t over complicate with color – keep it consistent and to a minimum
        • Use parameterized views to add additional analytical capability without adding clutter
        • Use tooltips effectively to keep users immersed
        • Make sure the visuals make for easy comparisons of differences
        • Always be comparing