In addition, this course will introduce you to capturing essential information for good dashboard design. This course is designed to help you understand the important concepts and techniques used in Tableau to move from simple to complex visualizations and learn how to combine them in interactive dashboards. The course consists of hands-on exercises, interactive dashboard review and critique, visual science review, and lecture. No prerequisite experience is needed, and no technical or analytical background is required.


At the end of this class, the student will be able to:

  • Basic Tableau Skills
    • Understand the many options for connecting to data
    • Understand the Tableau interface / paradigm – components, shelves, data elements, and terminology. The student will be able to use this knowledge to
    • effectively create the most powerful visualizations
    • Create basic calculations including string manipulation, basic arithmetic calculations, custom aggregations and ratios, date math, logic statements
    • Able to represent your data using the following visualization types:
      • Cross Tab
      • Geographic Map
      • Page Trails
      • Heat Map
      • Density Chart
      • Scatter Plots
      • Bar Charts
      • Small Multiples
      • Options for drill down and drill across
    • Understanding how to use group, bin, hierarchy, sort, set and filter options effectively
    • Work with the many formatting options to fine tune the presentation of your visualizations
    • Understand all options for sharing your visualizations with others
  • Combine your visualizations into Interactive Dashboards and publish them to the web
    • Dashboard Design Skills
    • Understand the many options for visualizing data
    • Differentiate between the types of dashboards
    • Understand how end-user perspective impacts design decisions
    • Spot indicators on data visuals that help identify the type of dashboard
    • Define the difference between perception and cognition and why it is relevant to data visuals
    • Justify use of specific visual features and how they result in “intuitive” data visuals
    • Outline important design concepts such as visual memory, pre-attentive processing, perception, and cognition
    • Demonstrate examples of design concepts and identify how and why they work
    • List the types of visual features and specific visual features within each type
    • Identify poor use of visual features
    • Define the types of data and provide examples of each
    • Align visual features with the types of data
    • Avoid common mistakes and provide a solution for each
    • Understand the long history of data visualization
    • Describe the traits of a good dashboard
    • Critique dashboards and identify good and poor use of visual features
    • Establish proper use of layout, color, organization of visual features
    • Determine the importance of methodologies on design and use of checklists
    • Outline a recommended design methodology along with deliverables and specific questions to address
    • Define design best practices
      • Implications of extracts
      • Use of filters
      • Performance impact of various decisions
      • Impact of fonts in various platforms (e.g., web browser, desktop, mobile, etc.)
    • Identify checks to make before publishing
    • Describe the impact of style guides and style standardization on good design
    • Explain the various types of charts in Tableau and when each is indicated


2 Days

Outline for Tableau Visualization Best Practices Training

Introduction and Overview

  • Level Setting – Terminology
  • Getting Started – creating some powerful visualizations quickly

Getting Started

  • Connecting to Data and introduction to data source concepts
    • Working with data files versus database servers
  • Data Types and Roles
    • Dimension versus Measures
    • Discrete versus Continuous
    • The meaning of pill colors
  • Understanding the Tableau workspace
  • Dimensions and Measures
  • Using Show Me!
  • Tour of Shelves (How shelves and marks work)
  • Building Basic Views
  • Help Menu and Samples
  • Saving and Sharing your work

Concepts and Options when Connecting to Data

  • Overview of other connection options
    • Joining multiple tables
    • Copy and Paste
    • Data Extracts
    • Publishing and Re-using Data Connections
  • Understand how to deal with data changes in your data source such as field addition, deletion or name change
  • Re-using and sharing data connections – the concept of meta data
  • Working with multiple connections in the same workbook


  • Creating Views
    • Marks
    • Size and Transparency
    • Highlighting
    • Working with Dates
  • Chart Types
    • Geographic Map
    • Paging / Trails
    • Heat Map
    • Scatter Plots
    • Bar Charts
    • Crosstabs / Text Tables
    • Sparklines
    • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Bands
  • Analyzing
    • Sorting & Grouping
    • Aliases
    • Filtering and Quick Filters
    • Cross-Tabs (Pivot Tables)
    • Totals and Subtotals
    • Drilling Down and Drill Through
    • Aggregation and Disaggregation
    • KPI Symbols / Shapes

Getting Started with Calculated Fields

  • Basic Arithmetic Calculations
  • Working with Totals
  • Custom Aggregations
  • Logic Statements

Working with Parameters

  • Parameter Basics
    • Data types of parameters
    • Using parameters in calculated fields
    • Inputting parameter values and parameter control options
    • Using parameters for titles, field selections, logic statements, Top X

Building Interactive Dashboards

  • Combining multiple visualizations into a dashboard
  • Making your worksheet interactive by using actions and filters
  • Quick Filters
  • Dashboard Objects
  • Filter Actions
  • Highlighting and Actions
  • Performance

Best Practices in Dashboard Design

  • Define “dashboard”
  • Introduce end-user perspective
  • Define the three types of dashboards
  • Understand the characteristics of each type of dashboard
  • Review examples of types of dashboards
  • Test your understanding of the three types of dashboards

Hacking the Human Brain

  • How were best practices uncovered?
  • Understand the difference between perception and cognition
  • See examples of dashboards that employ perception versus cognition
  • Introduce visual memory, especially visual short-term memory
  • See perceptual popout in action
  • Define the relationship between visual memory and visual processing
  • Categorize and see examples of each type of visual feature that takes advantage of visual memory
  • Test your own visual processing abilities
  • Approaches to avoid with visual features
  • Define and provide examples of the three types of data
  • Align types of data with optimal visual features to use

Common Mistakes

  • List the most common mistakes designers make
    • Lack of Context
    • Excessive Detail or Precision
    • Scrolling
    • Poor Measure Selection
    • Inappropriate Visual Features
    • Poor Use of Visual Features
    • Meaningless Variety
    • Incorrectly Encoding Quantitative Data
    • Poor Arrangement
    • Inappropriate or Missing Highlighting
    • Non-Functional Decoration
    • Misuse or Excessive Use of Color
    • Poor Visual Aesthetic
  • See examples of each type of mistake
  • Discuss more appropriate approaches for each type of mistake

Visual Best Practices

  • Understand the need for best practices
  • See examples of best practices in action
  • Introduce the long history of excellent visuals
  • See and critique several examples of visuals
    • Highlight mistakes in visual feature use
    • Arrive at solutions for each
  • Dashboard areas and implicit importance
  • Proper use of color
  • Implications for color blindness and color deficiency
  • Organization of visuals to take advantage of visual processing

Capturing Requirements

  • See an example of a recommend requirements checklist
  • Work through an exercise in capturing requirements via a checklist

Iterative Design

  • Introduction to Unilytics’ Agile Dashboard Design Methodology (AD3)
  • Define AD3 design phases
    • Conception
    • Visualization
    • Finalization
  • Identify recommended deliverables in each phase

Design Best Practices

  • Implications of Tableau extracts
  • Proper use of filters
  • Impact of design decisions on performance
  • Specific recommendations of best practices
  • Things to check before you publish
  • Notes on use of fonts


  • Review the types of charts in Tableau
    • See examples of each type of chart
    • Understand when each type of chart is appropriate
  • Importance of consistency
  • Defining a style guide
  • Converting your style guide into a reusable template
  • Review the areas of a view in terms of formatting: pane, header, cell, rows, columns, etc.

Sharing Workbooks

  • Publish to Reader
  • Packaged Workbooks
  • Publish to Office
  • Publish to PDF
  • Publish to Tableau Server and Sharing over the Web

Putting it all together

  • Scenario-based Review Exercise
  • Applying Visual Best Practices to Dashboard Construction

Where to get Further Assistance

  • The Help File / Product Manual
  • Knowledge base
  • Forums
  • Whitepapers & Books
  • Further Training Offerings & Professional Services
  • Technical Support