There are some key organizational habits that will make your life a lot easier when building out a Tableau Workbook or Dashboard. I have learned the hard way and want to share some insights so you can avoid the mistakes that I have made in my Tableau journey.
1. When uploading a data source organize your dimensions and measures into folders
This is a basic organizational habit, but it will save time when you’re working with several dimensions and measures. This also helps anyone who may be working with the workbook in the future, especially clients/consumers who are looking to navigate, build out views for themselves and/or simply wrap their heads around the data.
2. Create hierarchies with dimensions that have a “cascading” relationship
This allows for quick drill down options as you can see below with State, City and Postal Code. I use this for easy insights for more granular detail.
3. Think functionality first, design second
Tableau has improved its design options and it’s easy to get sidetracked with all the color, float, alignment options, etc. that exist to make your data dashboard look polished. These elements are essential, but my recommendation would be to create the framework, nail the filters and actions and ensure the integrity of the data flowing through first. This will give you the freedom to be an artist to put the polishing touches on your dashboard!
4. Don’t rename (or give alias to) dimensions or measures until making the final changes
If you are working through an iterative process of prepping the data and getting it flowing through Tableau correctly you will most likely be replacing data sources at least a few times. Even if the naming conventions are slightly funky don’t worry about it. Changing them early will only add to confusion. Plus, once you’re putting the polishing touches on your dashboard it will look that much better once you rename them appropriately.
5. Use intuitive naming for worksheets and dashboards
When opening up a new worksheet or dashboard it automatically defaults to “Sheet 1” or “Dashboard 1” and these numbers increase as you build out more views. These can start to pile up and it can become pretty confusing when you create worksheets in the double digits. Take the time to name your worksheets and dashboards appropriately.
6. Color code the worksheets and dashboards that have a relationship
A dashboard may contain 4 or more views and a workbook may contain multiple dashboards. So let’s say you have 4 dashboards with 4 worksheets each. Yikes! That’s 16 worksheets plus 4 dashboards for a total of 20 tabs. Do yourself a favor and use the “color tab” option to link worksheets to the appropriate dashboard.
7. When working with several worksheets and dashboards hide worksheets: navigate from the dashboard
The number of tabs can be overwhelming, so choose the “hide” option and navigate to the worksheets you want to see from the dashboard associated. Try the same method but for multiple worksheets at the same time by pressing Ctrl. Select. There is a “Carrot/Arrow option in the top right hand corner of each worksheet on a dashboard where you can navigate to that specific sheet. NOTE: I would only recommend this option once you’re done iterating on dashboards.
8. Label your actions
There is a fairly nifty drop down option for a worksheet on a dashboard called “Use as filter.” This applies the same filter to all other views on that dashboard. This is a really nice shortcut, but be sure to go into actions and label this filter option or it will default to filter 1, filter 2, etc. This can become very difficult to track when multiple actions are applied within your workbook.
These are 8 organization habits that have improved my efficiency within Tableau. It saves you time long term and it will ultimately delight your consumer or client.
By: Barclay Klingel
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