Storytelling with Charts Mini Guide Part 2 of 2
  • 01 Dec 2023
  • 5 Minutes to read
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Storytelling with Charts Mini Guide Part 2 of 2

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Article summary

Continuing the guidance from Storytelling with Charts Mini Guide Part 1 of 2, in Part 2 of this mini guide series, we will look at how to build a dashboard composed of multiple charts to tell a whole and complete story to your audience. 

Consider Your Audience

Just like picking out the right chart based on your audience's needs to showcase your data, dashboards require thoughtful planning of its design. Your audience may be internal or external stakeholders. Are they familiar with the data collected? Does your audience need quick overviews or in-depth analysis? It's important to tailor your dashboard's complexity and content to match your users' knowledge and needs.

Clearly Define the Outcome

Dashboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Every dashboard should have a specific use case for your audience, and the data and visuals on the dashboard should be curated to meet that outcome. Sometimes you want to show a new perspective to the data you've collected as part of a presentation or announcement. Other times, the data you're collecting will be used for anomaly detection when monitoring key metrics. 

It would important to answer the following questions as your think about the dashboard design:

  1. What questions should your dashboard?
  2. How would you want your audience to read your dashboards? 
    1. Left to right and / or top to bottom?
    2. Are there other tabs to provide more details to your story?
  3. What kind of interactivity do you want your audience to have with the dashboard?
  4. How much time will they be spending on your dashboard?
  5. What actions would you want your audience to take because of the insights you showed?

Design Your Dashboard

Once you have a new dashboard in mind, it would be very beneficial to consider the analytics design and engineering for your dashboard, which starts with a concept sketch. You can build a skeleton dashboard and consider the types of charts you want to layout in different parts of the dashboard. During this sketch, you can consider how your audience's eyes will move through the dashboard and where your audience should stop to interact with the dashboard, ask further questions, or take actionable next steps.

Dashboard Best Practices

  • Create a Strong Landing View: Generally, the landing view of the dashboard (name and key charts) should show summary statistics. You want to make it easy for your audience to quickly arrive at an understanding of the data and empower them to discover more details if they have time. 
  • Consider Organization and Hierarchy: Charts should be named clearly and organized in a systematic way so the audience can easily navigate the dashboard and interpret each chart. You can consider how to showcase your story through chart types discussed in Part 1 of the guide. Dividers and tabs makes it easy to arrange the information and provide navigational pointers. Additional details can be tucked away in harder to reach parts of the dashboard or other dashboards. 
  • Limit Scope: Resist the urge to overload a single dashboard with too much information or the scope creep that happens as you add more charts to a dashboard over time. Dashboards at the end of the page or on other tabs are hard to navigate to, reduce performance, and worsen the overall message you want to show.
  • Build Interactivity: Audiences are more likely to remember the story you're telling if they can personally interact with the data. Setting up dashboard filters, drill by, and drill-to-detail create a depth to story within a single chart and lets the user explore the data from different angles. Interactivity can be as small as chart annotations, tooltips that show up on hover for the chart description, or comments from other users.
  • Customize Themes and Colors: The presentation style of the dashboard makes a big difference on the audience's interpretation and recall. Using sensible colors can expedite your story telling and making sure that the theme of the dashboard matches a particular brand can make your dashboard feel professional and memorable.

Performance, Access, and Security

There's more to the dashboard design that you should consider before you're ready to publish and share it! 

No one enjoys waiting a long time to load a dashboard. As the analytics experience designer, you have the power to make sure your dashboard has a clear outcome so that your audience isn't delayed in viewing critical charts because of irrelevant ones on the same dashboard. Clearly defining the use case for the dashboard and limiting the charts on a dashboard is a great start. Preset's caching strategy is an additional benefit that ensures your dashboards load fast, but ultimately it's up to you to make sure your stakeholders quickly load and view your dashboard to make data-empowered decisions.

Before publishing a dashboard, consider the access controls for the dashboard. Secure your datasets and implement robust owner and role-based access controls (RBAC) to prevent unauthorized access and changes that could affect your dashboard. If you’re an admin responsible for data access management, determine who should have access to the data. Who is authorized to view and explore the data according to the organization’s data access policy.

Feedback Loop and Maintenance

So you're created your first dashboard! What's next? After publishing your dashboard for the first time, you can gather feedback from users and stakeholders on the dashboard's usability and effectiveness. Keep in mind that a new dashboard will receive a lot of feedback as business stakeholders evolve their requirements as they use your dashboard and come up with additional questions. You can use feedback to make iterative enhancements to your dashboard over time.

A great way to gather feedback is to use Preset's reports and alerts to send out dashboards or charts regularly to key decision makers. You can also use features to verify the dashboard's integrity and accuracy.

One your dashboard is in a stable state, you should regularly visit to evaluate that the dashboard's data remains high quality and the dashboard's use case is strong. As an admin, it's important to consider deprecating a dashboard after business initiatives have concluded or a dashboard's use drops significantly. This ensures that your dashboard list isn't cluttered with irrelevant dashboards and new comers to your team or company can quickly see which dashboards are frequently used.

Additional Resources

Preset has published this terrific blog that highlights some of top charts with more details:


The process of curating and designing your dashboard for your key stakeholders is an important one! Building an effective dashboard creates a lot of value for your business and your customers to enable data-informed decision-making using Preset.

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