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Tableau: Next Steps

Building More Dynamic Visualizations and Dashboards

Topic: Data
Christopher Gardner

Tableau is a powerful data visualization tool. What are the features in Tableau that can take my simple chart and filters and turn them into a dynamic powerful dashboard? How can I take my huge amounts of data and provide the resources to my end user to easily digest all of it? Tableau makes this easy with tools such as calculations, parameters, and dashboards, but you still need to know how to use these tools.

How can you grant your end user control without letting them get lost in the weeds? How do you make your layouts simple to navigate and understand while still being powerful? These methods along with simple graphic design and user interface techniques will make your dashboard and charts useful and engaging. They will not only answer your management question, but also the next two or three while providing plenty of resources to spark additional interest.

What you'll learn-and how you can apply it

By the end of this live, hands-on, online course, you’ll understand:

  • How to take a simple Tableau chart to the next level. This course will show you how to utilize calculations and parameters to make more interactive and dynamic visualizations.
  • How to calculate ratios and other common calculations without falling into the pitfalls of incorrect aggregation.
  • How to take a collection of visualizations and combine them into a cohesive, dynamic dashboard that is both intuitive and powerful while also learning the best practices of layout, design, and visualizations to make the dashboard functional and appealing.

By the end of this live, hands-on, online course, you’ll understand:

  • Calculations: Manipulating the dimensions and measures in a data set to accurately display end results.
  • Utilizing built-in fields: Understand what Measure Names and Measure Values do as well as how to count records without a calculation.

This training course is for you because...

  • You’re an analyst or decision maker in your current role.
  • You work with data on a regular basis and use this data to help facilitate decision making or you are hoping to do so in the future.
  • You want to become a data advocate for your organization by facilitating information access through data visualization.
  • You are familiar with the basics in Tableau and you want to take your skills to the next level.


  • Familiarity with basic principles of databases (e.g., tables, fields)
  • Familiarity with simple coding logic (e.g., if then, case when)
  • Some prior experience with Tableau basics (data connections, chart building, filters, and sorts)

Recommended preparation:

  • Download and install Tableau Desktop. A free trial version is fine, as long as the trial is active during the class.
  • Download the provided data set to use during the class. This will need to be downloaded in Excel format (.xlsx) on your desktop.
  • Familiarize yourself with basic Tableau chart creation methods, such as by taking Tableau: First Steps (live online training course with Christopher Gardner)

Recommended follow-up:

About your instructor

  • Christopher studied at the University of Michigan, graduating with a degree in Actuarial Mathematics in 2003. He currently serves as the University of Michigan campus Tableau application administrator, controlling security, updates, and performance maintenance. He is also part of a small team responsible for developing and maintaining a suite of university-level dashboards used by campus budget administrators, deans, and university leadership. As part of his job, he leads a monthly day-long Tableau introduction course at the University. He also presented at Tableau Conference in 2019.


The timeframes are only estimates and may vary according to how the class is progressing

Measure Names and Measure Values (25 min)

  • When/why to use
  • Exercise: Display the previous example side by side with the current and estimated values using Measure Names and Measure Values

More Complicated Charts (25 min)

  • Dual Axis
  • Reference Lines
    • Labels
    • Configuration
  • Example: Using reference lines
  • Break (5 minutes)

More Advanced Calculations (25 min)

  • Aggregation in calculations
  • Example: Calculations with aggregation issues
  • Q&A

Parameters (15 min)

  • Top N
  • Dimension or Measure Switcher

Sets/Groups (20 min)

  • Groups vs Sets
  • Example: Use sets and table calcs to find % of profit for top N sales customers.
  • Break (5 minutes)
  • Formatting (15 min)
  • Axis
  • Labels
  • Tooltips

Dashboards (40 min)

Float vs. Tiled Dimensions Containers Design Concepts

Stories and Q&A (5 min)