When building a dashboard for digital analytics, you are aiming for one thing: an intuitive, easily navigable dashboard that tells your story clearly. In this blog post, I will show you how to do this by creating a dashboard with a web-like interface right in Microsoft’s Power BI Desktop.
As always, keep the basics in mind. Know your audience – who they are, and how they want to use the dashboard. Do they need to monitor the data with lots of eye-catching visuals, or do they need a diagnostic tool with lots of filters and slicers? It can be helpful to use a pen and paper or some other tool, to sketch a mockup of your dashboard before you begin. This helps you figure out what elements you need to include and how to fit them all together.
Creating your dashboard
In Power BI Desktop, open a tab. Create a template that reflects what you want on your report. The graphic below shows some important elements of this template page. I’ve added visual navigation icons. *** Hover or click on each number for an explanation of the design element.***
1 & 2
Navigation. Choose icons that represent the main metrics and functions of your dashboard. Here, you’ll see two designs as examples:
Image number 1: Left Nav.
Image number 2: Filters
Tip: Create a single icon using multiple images and insert that design using a text box.
The reporting space. Outlining the reporting space gives your client a visual cue for the space where the data is shown. Keeping this visual cue consistent throughout enhances the intuitive nature of using the reports.
4 & 5
Date selection and Help icon
Dates are needed to run Power BI, and it’s up to you to display them appropriately.
The Help Icon is used to navigate to the glossary, appendix, FAQs, or any other supplemental resources that are necessary for reports.
Your reports go here. Keep things simple and consistent. Simplicity allows the story to show through clearly. Consistency in style, font family, size, and color scheme throughout your dashboard minimizes distraction and confusion for your client.
Build your visual navigation
- It is now time to make your visual navigation functional. Bring your images to Excel or PowerPoint (the visual navigation icons that you chose earlier). If you don’t already have your individual images saved together as one icon, do that now. Here’s how:
Insert a shape over the first image and make the fill color semi-transparent. Capture and save that as an image. Move the shape to the next icon, and repeat until you have all variations, four in this case. Ensure they are all the same size. Save these for later.
- Back in Power BI, overlay the navigation icons on your template screen with blank buttons inserted from the Home tab. These buttons are key to your intuitive navigation.
For the border, set the default outline to transparent in visualization settings,. Set Color 1 on Hover (meaning it will change to that color when you mouse over it), and Color 2 on Selected (meaning when the button is clicked.
Move the button to layer over and outline what you have set as your “Home” navigation.
COPY the button, along with its formats, to the other icons on your picture. This step is key to the functionality of the navigation.
This gives you a row of icons with boxes that appear on mouseover around them.
Copy your template
Your template now has all the visual elements and navigation structures to allow you to build a web-like interface for your audience. Right click on the tab of your template page and copy the page for as many tabs as you will need. In the example.you will see that I have also created a separate title slide. This is optional.
Now we come to the most crucial part of making the Power BI Report function as a web-like interface dashboard. Use the bookmark function to make your navigation icons work.
- Using the Bookmarks Pane, create a bookmark for each of your tabs.
- Click on one of the buttons you’ve inserted over your navigation icons. Activate, and open the “Action” menu within the Visualizations Pane. Select the bookmark that correlates with the button – in this case page 1 of your report:
Clicking on the button now opens the bookmarked tab. Since you have created bookmarks for all your tabs, you can set a button to navigate to any tab you wish.
- Activate the buttons overlaid on each of your navigation icons by opening the Action menu and setting the bookmarks to the appropriate corresponding pages.
- Now change the navigation image on each tab to one of the ones that you created earlier with the semi-transparent shape. As in the example below, when you click on the icon on the home page, it should take you to the traffic tab in the report. The traffic navigation image on that page should then show the traffic icon highlighted.
That’s a wrap
Your intuitive, easily navigable dashboard is complete! Your dashboard is consistent, easy to navigate, and allows your audience to devote their entire attention to the data.