Effective Dashboard Design OR “Not Every Tableau Dashboard Should be a Pie Chart”

Charlie Reagan ON Jul 29, 2015

Tableau is incredibly powerful. But, it works best with good, clean data and with effectively designed dashboards. One of our clients, a Fortune 500 company, had two consistent problems for a core daily revenue report – data that required manual processing and dashboards that created as many questions as the answers they provided.

Most of the pieces were in place. The priorities: redesign the dashboard in a way that allowed executives to quickly see data, customize designs so that they were aligned with brand voice, allow dashboard users/viewers to slice and dice data in ways meaningful to them in their role.

The Problem

  • You bought Tableau, but your dashboards, quite frankly, look like crap. Is it a data problem or a design problem? The answer is frequently both.
  • Many companies have data scientists, few companies have people that know how to design effective dashboards/data visualization.


  1. Poorly designed reports (or dashboards) can be as bad or confusing as no reports at all
  2. Most corporations don’t have good data designers – they can’t even pick the right kinds of visualization for the data/question
  3. You need smart UX and as well as good data people to build effective dashboards in Tableau
  4. Effectively visualized data has the power to move enterprises forward

Your Dashboard Design Approach

  • Your data should tell a story
  • Know your audience, understand their needs
  • Know that analysts are not designers – If you don’t have a data designer on staff, your team is not complete
  • Good data in > good visualizations out – You will not get ‘good’ dashboards without ‘good’ data
  • Build and test dashboards