Association Analytics Blog

How to Pare Down Your Wardrobe -- and Your Dashboards

Feb 15, 2016 5:00:21 AM / by Tamsen Haught

As spring approaches, people start thinking about cleaning out their closets and decluttering their lives so they can start the season feeling renewed. You should take advantage of that mindset to get rid of some of your dashboards.

Clothes for Donation Photo by Eric Mesa

When I go through my closet, I normally make three piles of clothes. Things I know I wear that are in good shape go in the "keep" pile. Things I haven’t touched in years or things that don’t fit go straight into the "toss" pile. When I find things about which I can't make quick gut decision, I put them in a "re-evaluate" pile. I go through those in the end to determine whether I should keep them.

The process for cleaning up your dashboards is actually very similar.

Keep

  • It gets worn all the time. Similar to those clothes that you reach for a regular basis, those dashboards that get a lot of views are definite keepers. On Tableau Server, you can track traffic to see which dashboards get the most usage.
  • You’d buy it again. Maybe there are some dashboards that are not getting a ton of views, but you'd make again if you were starting work with the data today. Those dashboards still have value, and maybe the target audience just doesn’t realize they exist. Keep these dashboards and try to find a way to market them internally so they can deliver the value you know they have.
  • It’s your best special-occasion outfit. Everyone has fancy outfits that only get worn once or twice a year. You will likely have that kind of dashboard, like ones that are created for quarterly board meetings. Save those so you don't have to re-invent just before the next meeting.

Toss

  • You have too many. Sometimes you end up with items that are practically identical. Do you really need four knee-length black sheath dresses? You may have dashboards that serve almost identical purposes. Choose the best and get rid of the rest.
  • You don’t know what it does. I had a thing in my kitchen. I don’t know why I bought it, how it works, or what it is even called. It just took up space. You probably have some dashboards that were created for a reason that no one can recall. Those are just cluttering up your site, so toss them.
  • It is beyond repair. Sometimes you have dashboards that started out simple, then got pork-barreled into unrecognizable messes. You may have spent a lot of time on them, but if they are no longer useful, it is time to start fresh on new dashboards that can handle those questions.

Sometimes you end up with some dashboards that don’t clearly fit in the "toss" or "keep" piles. You will want to put those in the re-evaluate pile. Give yourself a limited time -- like six months -- to see if they are used. If no one touches these dashboards, or they are confusing to your staff, it is time to toss or redo these visualizations.

Topics: Business Intelligence

Tamsen Haught

Written by Tamsen Haught