Updated: Feb 9
Tableau has some incredibly powerful tools for interacting with your data. This 4-part series contains a number of tips and tricks for leveraging those tools to build business dashboards that are more flexible, more engaging, more powerful, and generally, just a lot more fun to use. This is part 4 of the series and covers how to add an Instructions "Overlay" to provide information on how to interact with and navigate your dashboard. Check out the Resources below for a link to the dashboard referenced in this blog post.
When we build dashboards with a lot of interactivity, it's critical that our users know how to use them. This can be a huge barrier for adoption and one of the more common causes for low usage on a dashboard. Training is important, but you may not always be available to train new users or to answer questions. Including an overlay like the one above can provide clear instructions on how to interact with your dashboard. There are many design tools you can use to accomplish this, but for this demo, we'll be using PowerPoint
First, we are going to copy our dashboard into a PowerPoint slide
On the dashboard, click on Dashboard > Copy Image
Open PowerPoint and go to a blank slide
Set the size of the slide equal to the size of your dashboard
Go to Design > Slide Size > Custom Slide Size
Adjust the height and width of the slide to match your dashboard's size
One inch in PowerPoint is exactly euqal to 100 pixels in Tableau, so a dashboard that is 1200 x 900 will fit perfectly on a 12 x 9 inch slide
Paste the image of your dashboard into the slide
Next, we want to create a semi-transparent layer over the dashboard image
Click Insert > Shapes and add a square to your slide
Resize the square so it covers the entire slide
Change the color and outline of the square to Black
Right click and select "Format Shape"
Click on Fill and set the "Transparency" to ~20%
Now, we'll want to use shapes, arrows, and text to provide instructions. Here is a sample of what your overlay might look like
When you're finished designing your overlay, we need to save it as an image
Right click on the black square and select "Send to Back"
Select and delete your dashboard image
Starting in the upper left corner, outside of the slide area, click and drag your mouse to the lower right corner, outside of the slide area, to multi-select all of the contents of your slide
Right click and select "Group"
Right click again and select "Save As Picture"
Save your overlay image
Now we need to add this image to our dashboard
Drag out a floating container
Update the size and position of the container
x = 0
y = 0
w = width of your dashboard
h = height of your dashboard
Add your overlay image to the container
Drag an image object into the container
Check the boxes for "Fit Image" and "Center Image"
Click the "Choose" button and select your image
Set the "Outer Padding" on the image object to 0 in all directions
Next, we need to add a "Show/Hide" button to display/hide the overlay
Select the floating container that was added in the last step (click on the image, click on the ▼ for "More Options, and then choose "Select Container")
Click the ▼ for "More Options"
Select "Add Show/Hide Button"
Click and drag the button to move it to the desired location
And finally, we want to format the "Show/Hide" button
Select the button
Click the ▼ for "More Options"
Edit the button for when "Item Shown"
This is how the button will appear when the container is showing. We would typically leave this as the default "X" image, but may add a background color to make the "X" more visible against a dark background
Edit the button for when "Item Hidden"
This is how the button will appear when the container is hidden. This is the button users would click on to display the instructions overlay. We would typically use some sort of information icon for this
If desired, add a text box next to the icon to explain what it does (also make sure to edit this text box's position in the item hierarchy)
Test your overlay
When viewing the dashboard in design mode in Tableau Desktop, you will need to hold alt while clicking on the button. In presentation mode, or on Tableau Server/Online/Public, you can just click on the button
That is the end of our post and the end of our Building Better Business Dashboards Through Interactivity series. We hope you have enjoyed these tips and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.