A dashboard should be more than just a collection of charts, it should allow a viewer to interact with the data. Matt shows how adding actions and interactions to a dashboard can create a more engaging experience and allow deeper understanding.
- [Instructor] One of the best ways to add interaction to a dashboard is using dashboard actions. Now, the reason we do this is because we want our users to really engage with our dashboard. We spent a load of time gathering the data, analyzing the data, producing the dashboard, so we really want to have a nice user experience for them. Now, the dashboard actions invite the user to play with our dashboard. Rather than clicking on drop-downs or filters, actually interacting with the elements as part of the dashboard, click on the marks, the bars, the lines, really brings the dashboard to life. Now, there are six different types of actions that we can apply to our sheets within our dashboard. So we have filter actions, highlight actions, URL actions. There's a go to action, and then there are set actions and parameter actions. So let's have a look at these in a little bit more detail to understand why we might use one rather than the other. So firstly, filter actions. Now, a filter action works in a very similar way to a standard filter, but in this case we can select a single mark or maybe a group of marks using the multiple select, maybe the rubber banding, all by clicking on a header. So that'd be a row or column of data, maybe in a table. And that will filter other sheets. Filter actions can be created in a single click. So any sheet that is part of a dashboard can be selected to be a filter which is then applied to every other sheet in the dashboard. Now, the real advantage to using filter actions is unlike standard filters, they don't affect the dashboard performance. If you think about it, any time you apply a filter to a dataset, Tableau's got to do some work in the background. It has to work out what data it should include or exclude. If you have more than one filter in a dashboard, Tableau's got to do twice as much work because it has to first work out how much do I include from the first filter? And then how does that affect the second filter? And how much data do I then have to filter out? So one of the things that a lot of people do when they first get hold of Tableau is put loads and loads of filters in. Each time you do that, it's going to hamper the performance. A filter action, on the other hand, doesn't have that same downside because the filter isn't active until somebody actually selects the mark in the view. At that point, the filter then becomes live, and Tableau does the work. So as a performance benefit, filter actions are really, really good. Second is a highlight action, now, highlight actions work in a very similar way to filter actions. We can select a single mark or a group of marks. But instead of including or excluding data, the highlight action, as the name suggests, highlights the corresponding marks in other sheets. Now, the benefit of doing this is it lets you see things in context. One of the problems with filtering out data is you're never quite sure if this value is good or bad compared to everything else because you've excluded anything else to compare it to. But the advantage with the highlight is it shows you the important thing, but it has that very important context. One thing to be aware of when you use highlight actions is that the dimension that you want to use as the highlight has to be present in both of the sheets where you want the action to work. It has to be in the source sheet and also the target sheet. Otherwise, Tableau doesn't know what it should be highlighting. So if you ever create a highlight action and it isn't quite working, check to make sure you have that dimension present in both sheets. It doesn't have to be part of the view itself, but it has to be at least in the level of detail mark. Next, we have URL actions. These work by when you click on a mark, it'll open up a web browser to a URL. This is really useful if you have a website that has additional information about a particular data type. It could even be something like a Google search or to a Wikipedia entry. This works because when you click on the mark, Tableau will pass through whatever value is contained within that mark to the URL so you can basically append it on the end of any web address. This is a great way to include more data without it being part of the dashboard. So instead of cramming in additional information, we can rely on the fact that this is available in another application that is just a click away. Remember, we want to have a dashboard that's nice and clean and simple, so we don't want to clutter it with extra information. But having URL action will allow us to pull in a webpage whenever we want. URL actions work best as a menu selection. You definitely don't want to use the select action or the hover action 'cause otherwise when you start moving over marks, web browsers are going to pop up all over the place. That's not good. The next action is a go to action. And this allows you to navigate between different dashboards. Again, this has the advantage that we don't need to cram a dashboard with every detail. And we can have a more specialist dashboard waiting for us when we want to go into a bit more depth. This allows us to keep our dashboards clean and simple, which is one of our ultimate aims. We can also use button objects to perform a similar function. So we can either click on an individual mark, and that will take us to a new dashboard, or button options would do the same thing for us. Set actions are a interesting type of action. A little bit more work than the other four, but they have some really good applications. A set action will take an existing set, and it will update the values in that set based on the user actions within this. Now, a set action will set the data into two groups, either in or out. And this makes it easy to compare or group against another, as we haven't excluded the data, much like the highlight action. A couple of really good use case for set actions are proportional brushing and asymmetric drill-down, which we'll show in some of our examples. Finally, parameter actions. Parameters are a fantastic tool. They take user input and allow us to drive changes to the view. Parameter actions work in exactly the same way, but instead of having, say, the parameter slider or input box, we can just click on a mark in the view. That will take the input from that data and then change the view. So it works as a standard parameter value. Examples of this would be dynamic reference lines or advanced highlighting. Actions really allow us to create interactive dashboards. It allows the user to play with the data on the screen, rather than having to go to a menu, selecting a filter from a drop-down. Everything is there right in front of them.
- Determining the purpose of a dashboard
- Making dashboards for specific audiences
- Creating dashboards for mobile devices
- Setting up an informative dashboard
- Posting explorative data
- Sharing insights on persuasive dashboards
- Designing organized dashboard layouts
- Adding actions to a dashboard