Chapter 1. Introducing Dashboards

In This Chapter

  • Defining dashboards and reports

  • Determining user requirements

  • Establishing visualization and design principles

  • Reviewing your dashboard prior to distribution

Creating a dashboard in Excel is not the same as creating a standard table-driven analysis. It's tempting to jump right in and start building away, but a dashboard requires far more preparation than a typical Excel report. It calls for closer communication with business leaders, stricter data modeling techniques, and the following of certain best practices. It's helpful to be familiar with fundamental dashboard concepts before venturing off into the mechanics of building your own. In this chapter, we discuss basic dashboard concepts and design principles, and what it takes to prepare for a dashboarding project.


All workbook examples that we list in this book are available on the companion Web site for this book at

What are Dashboards and Reports?

It isn't difficult to use the words report and dashboard interchangeably. In fact, the line between dashboards and reports frequently get muddied. We see countless reports that are referred to as dashboards just because they include a few charts. Likewise, we see many examples of what could be considered dashboards, but are called reports.

Now this may all seem like semantics to you, but it is helpful to clear the air a bit and understand the core attributes of both dashboards and reports.

Defining reports

Reports ...

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