How I design dashboards in Data Studio
Performance dashboards can (and should) be visually engaging. Data is only one part of the equation.
Before we get started:
These articles are not going to please data science purists. If you’re the kind of person that thinks there is never a good place to use a pie chart, then these articles are not for you.
I strongly adhere to the philosophy that great data visualization is 50% core data principles and 50% visual design.
I come from a multi-disciplinary background from startups, sales engineering, product management and design — all of my positions centered around products that processed and visualized new and disparate data. What I learned from all these different roles was that data visualization is completely useless without buy-in and engagement. Following by-the-book data visualization principles isn’t always enough.
Data Studio has given me a platform to lean heavily into the visual side of things and to quickly/easily build my own dashboards. My goal is to make data visualizations that are both visually appealing and actionable. I don’t always hit the mark but I have had some success using these principles to get investment firms, medical device designers, and even sleep tech brands to start putting their data into action.
So I’m putting a together a quick-start guide - specifically designed for Data Studio users. It will break down the core principles I think everyone needs to level-up their dashboards.
How to make your Data Studio reports more visually engaging
The easiest way to start is by thinking about Data Studio like a Powerpoint slide, not an Excel sheet.
Data Studio doesn’t just let you build charts/scorecards/tables like Excel, it also gives you tools to add shapes, images and page styles. That means you can build almost anything in Data Studio that you could in powerpoint — cool themes, photos and even basic transitions and interactions.
In other words — Data Studio can look really snazzy with just a little bit of extra work.
In this series I’ll focus on a few key principles to help you get started:
- Part 1: Hierarchy of data and leveraging narrative [published Apr 28, 2021]
- Part 2: Structuring and organizing your page [published May 6, 2021]
- Part 3: Choosing your page style [published May 7, 2021]
- Part 4: Sticking to a color palette [published May 13, 2021]
- Part 5: Understanding shapes and shape styles [published May 17, 2021]
- Part 6: Using PNGs and SVGs to do anything that can’t be done with shapes [coming soon]
- Part 7: Adding bells and whistles — remembering that complexity is a trade-off [coming soon]
Each week I’ll release a new article and link to it here. You can also follow my Medium account to get notified or connect with me on Twitter where I’ll post these and can answer questions.
This is the The Data Studio Design Toolkit
If you’d like a helping hand on your Data Studio project, then check out the Data Studio Design Toolkit. This set of copy-pasteable dashboards and UI elements includes 6 dashboards (3 light and 3 dark themed) along with colors, guidelines/tips/tricks and UI elements in 7 different colors.
Thanks for tuning in!
I hope this is valuable for you all. The Data Studio community is one of the most helpful and supportive groups you’ll find, so get engaged, ask questions, start conversations. We’re all here to help.
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