In this blog, we discuss the elements of a style guide that will increase user adoption and take full advantage of the powerful design tools within Power BI.
User adoption is crucial to the success of any BI implementation. A BI developer can create rich reporting that uncovers valuable insights, but if the data isn’t utilized to make business decisions, the analytics investment is made in vain.
While many factors contribute to user adoption of your BI platform, there is one we find particularly important: a style guide. A style guide outlines the fonts, logos, colors, and design templates to help ensure all dashboards are cohesive in their look, feel, and use. How you style your data is key to unlocking its full potential. If all dashboards look and operate similarly, this can reduce the time it takes a user to process information, making it easier for them to uncover insight.
Having a style guide makes it easier for developers to create cohesive apps and enhances the end-user experience. In our project delivery experience, style guides promote quick time-to-value dashboards and increased overall trust from our end users upon delivery.
Your style guide should outline how and when to use the following elements. (Your Marketing team will likely have branding standards for many of these elements.)
Dashboard elements should also be defined:
Power BI design themes are a powerful feature that allow for reusable customization of company wide design standards. Power BI themes and templates promote consistency of deliverables in an efficient manner. When using themes and templates, a developer will no longer have to customize the settings of each dashboard.
Pick one core KPI and a few secondary metrics to build reports around: In this example, we built all of the reports around one core KPI and a few secondary metrics. We represented the core KPI in the same color (green) so users always associated this color with the same metric, regardless of what report they were in. The secondary metrics were always represented in purple and yellow to create the same effect. Then we used a light gray background with a black border for the full suite of reports. Every report we built for this client followed this same design layout to give some continuity regardless of the report a user was accessing.
Start with basic visualizations before adding more advanced ones: We picked a few core, basic visualizations to start with so users got comfortable seeing the data represented in the same way. As users got more comfortable and competent using a few distinct visuals (scatterplots, bar charts, time trends), we were able to introduce more advanced visualizations (Q&A visuals and Natural Language Generation boxes) and more feature functionality (drill through and customized tool tips). While they might look cool, bombarding users with a bunch of advanced visualizations out of the gate usually is just confusing and leads to poor user adoption.
To enable customized themes in Power BI, go to Options and settings-> Options-> Preview Features-> check box Customize current theme, and then restart Power BI.
To start customizing your theme, click on Switch Theme on the top ribbon and navigate down to Customize current theme. From there you can make your selections.
To export, under the same tab (Switch Theme), you will see the option to Export current theme.
After creating your template, export the template by navigating to Export-> Power BI template. When uploading a template to use to start developing, the theme will also transfer over. This means you should match the theme to the JSON file by importing the theme you created so there is theme uniformity between the JSON and PPBIT file.
With style guides in place, developers no longer design dashboards at random and they can focus on creating cohesive apps that improve user adoption and experience. Dashboards designed for the business user will help you discover new patterns, identify key relationships, share ideas, and explore new possibilities.
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