“Okay. Show me what you’ve done. Wow me.”
A prospective client said those words in a recent interview. Sure. No pressure.
Have I ever told you I’m horrible with interviews? 😅
As an early adopter of SAC in 2017, however, I’m keenly aware of what the tool can and cannot do. Wowing isn’t something that I would say is high in that list when it comes to this emerging tool.
Still, it’s a super cool product and I haven’t been excited about something like this in a long time. But first, let me get back to putting my foot in my mouth during the interview.
“I don’t use many chart types but here are some cool things that you can do with just bar charts and line graphs.”
I walked the client through my process of interpreting tabular data that most customers are accustomed to seeing in Excel sheets and displaying the same information in a more visual and immediate manner.
I tried my best to adhere to the International Business Communication Standards with slight variances, such as removing chart sub-titles and labels when things start to look too cluttered.
What sealed the deal (I think) was when I demonstrated some dynamic filtering where an interaction on one bar graph cascades to the other tiles on the page. It’s pretty neat to see it in action.
To my surprise, the client liked what he saw and I booked my travel accommodations later that week.
And my point? You don’t need a cornucopia of chart types.
- Start with the boring bar chart. It’s more than enough to get you started when comparing things (such as shipping metrics between plants or year over year revenue).
- Follow IBCS. Fill your current year bar in a dark color, fill the prior year bar in a lighter shade of the same color, and outline target or budget bar in the dark color. Start with a navy blue as your dark color for now.
- If you’re showing changes over time (or comparing things over time), then use a line chart.
That’s it! Just two chart types, some good use of color, and leave plenty of white space for your charts to breath and you’re more than on your way to building beautiful dashboards.
Need an extra hand with your dashboards? Let me know how I can help!
I believe there’s an incredible story hidden in every team. The way I share the lessons in these stories is through conversation and data. I just happen to build the analytics that asks the next question.