In this module, we will build on the analysis and dashboard you created in Module 1 (Build your first dashboard). We will explore concepts such as sheets, themes, formatting, dashboard layout settings, and additional visual types to enhance the look and feel of your dashboard and take it to the next level.
Sheets (aka tabs) are a great way to help organize your content so that you don’t feel you need to cram everything into one page. It is common to set up your first sheet with summary metrics and then provide drilldowns into more details found in your other sheets (we will cover the drilldown part in Module 3 - Add Interactivity). Some customers will create a sheet that solely has description information about the data presented in the dashboard (we will do an example of adding comments in Exercise 11 in this module, but if those comments get really long you may choose to move them to their own sheet). Sheets can easily be duplicated within an analysis which can help while you are experimenting and developing a new dashboard.
Themes allow you to quickly ‘skin’ your dashboard to use custom colors, alternate fonts and other options like controlling spacing between visuals. There are three out-of-the-box themes to choose from but you can create your own very easily. Themes are sharable objects too, so you can define a standard theme for your organization and share it with all authors to leverage as they create new dashboards. Once you create a custom theme, it is only requires 1 click to apply it to an existing analysis/dashboard. Small changes to the theme can make a big difference in terms of aesthetics, and we know users are more likely to adopt dashboards they think look good!
Field formats (such as date formats, number formatting like displaying as a percentage or currency, or changing the units or number of decimal places, etc) can be set in two places - at the field level and at the visual level. When you set the format at the field level, this becomes the new default for whenever that field is used (this is recommended). Sometimes you may want the format of a field to display differently in a particular visual though (perhaps to summarize or add more detail by adjusting units or decimal places), and therefore setting the field format on that visual will override the default format you applied to the field itself.
Visual formatting goes very deep and each visual type has different types of formatting options. For instance on line charts and bar charts (and generally charts with axes) you can adjust the axis title, axis scale, tick marks, grid lines, data labels, tooltips, etc. On pivot tables you will see different options like ability to turn off the expand/collapse functionality, adjust header and cell font sizes, add subtotals and totals, etc. When looking to customize the visual format beyond colors and font types (better to control this at the Theme level), be sure to check out the Format visual menu on each visual to see what options are available.
Dashboard layout settings can also make a huge difference in terms of how your dashboard displays on different screen sizes. We always recommend using the Optimized (to be renamed to Default) layout mode rather than Autofit (to be renamed to Legacy) to ensure you dashboards look good on any screen size, as it will lock the proportions of your dashboard and visual sizes and smoothly scale the entire dashboard up and down depending on the user’s display. We are also introducing a new High Fidelity layout mode which not only allows you to control size and position of visuals at a pixel-level, but also allows you to layer visuals on top of one another. When layering visuals you can control things like transparency to make two or more overlaid visuals appear as one. This opens doors to so many possibilities; simple things like floating a comment on top of another visual, to more advanced techniques like plotting data on top of background images like floor plans and schematics. High Fidelity mode is one of our favorite features we have added to the product in 2021 and we think you will like it too! We cover this in exercise 12 but depending on when you take this course you may or may not be able to follow along on your screen as at time of writing this feature is still in preview (aim to have this feature generally available in Aug 2021). We recommend duplicating your analysis from Module 1 so you can keep that as a starting point for future modules in case you choose to skip this one.
The exercises that follow will spruce up your dashboard as shown below.