Neuroscientists from MIT discovered that the human brain can process entire images seen in as little as 13 milliseconds. Data visualizations can instantly communicate complex information and ideas, but that doesn’t mean dashboards don’t require some explanation.
The Role of Explanations in Dashboard Design
When a data analyst creates a dashboard, they are trying to convey vast amounts of information quickly and effectively. Every element on your dashboard takes up cognitive load on the part of your audience. As as dashboard creator, you want to eliminate the elements that unnecessarily use up brain power and space.
Usability is key, which is why it can be helpful to include an explanation in your dashboard about how to use it or what business questions it seeks to answer. While you should strive to make that as intuitive as possible through other dashboard elements, sometimes infrequent or first-time visitors need more context. Lengthy text explanations can clutter a dashboard and distract from important data and results.
How to Add Tableau Information Icons
You can see the information icon in this visualization that shows Top 5 Customers by Sales. The icon appears as a lowercase i in a circle in the upper right-hand corner.
One way to balance the need for textual explanation with the need to have the focus be on the data is to create a simple information icon. An information icon allows you to provide information about your dashboard or view without taking up valuable real estate.
In about minute, follow along as I show you how to add a Tableau information icon using a custom shape and tooltip.