Thoughts on Layouts

When I create dashboards for my clients, the biggest layout concern is to make sure the dashboard isn’t larger than their screen. Occasionally I have issues where my text is too big to fill the container – in these cases, Tableau usually replaces my text with ‘…’ when the dashboard is automatically resized. With my clients in the past, it is always a safe bet that they want the dashboard to fit entirely on the screen, and to minimize the amount of scrollbars needed.

After two years of building Tableau dashboards at work, I have recently decided to start publishing some of my own dashboards on my Tableau Public account. My experience has been great so far, until I decided to share my 2017 Travel map with my friends and family. At work, our dashboards are always presented on laptops, desktops, projectors; when I’m at home, most of my browsing is done on my iPhone. You should’ve seen the look on my face when I opened my travel map on my phone, and was shocked at how terrible it looked!

This was my first time trying to look at my Tableau chart on my phone, and I didn’t realize the dashboard would automatically re-size and re-align itself to fit my screen. I shouldn’t have been surprised, since I had seen the Layout option in Tableau and knew you could create a layout specifically for mobile phones. I had assumed when published it would look just like on my screen, but smaller – and this was definitely not the case.

If my friends and family opened my link on their phones, they probably saw my wonky map with labels out of place and charts re-ordered. Not that they should be judging, but I’m sure it didn’t make my design skills look as well as I was trying to portray. I ran to my laptop, reorganized a version optimized for mobile, and published immediately. Not my best product, but better than it was before.

I have never had a need to design a Tableau dashboard for mobile through work, so it wasn’t something I had considered. Now I know to me more cautious as I start to share more visualizations with the world!

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