11 Replies Latest reply on Jul 7, 2016 9:20 AM by Lee Forst

    Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards

    Lee Forst

      I would like to put an idea out to see if anyone has ever attempted something like this better than what I've come up with. 


      When it comes to providing the user with help on how to use\read a sheet\dashboard, we've put text on the sheet\dashboard to help.  This is less than ideal when considering the "less is better " approach.  Also, we've put a help icon on the dashboard, which is nothing more than a sheet that has a tool tip for the custom shape.  This is ideal because it is less intrusive, but the problem is if I have a one dashboard and it has three or four graphs and they all need explanation, then I've create three or four sheets just for help. Yes, yes, the individual vizzes should be simple enough to understand, but atlas this is not always the case. Multiply this times a number of dashboards and there are tons of "help" sheets.


      So my thought was to have an Excel spreadsheet hold the instructions and then have one sheet that is the "help icon" and have it draw the tooltip from the spreadsheet data.  Then this help sheet would have a quick filter to select a "help topic".  You can see the attached Excel file and my working example workbook.  Using this approach I will only have one "help" sheet per dashboard.


      What are your thoughts? I'm real curious to see if there are better ideas out there.

        • 1. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
          Ivan Young

          Hi Lee,

          This is an interesting topic and an ongoing challenge for me and I'm sure others.  I'm on 9.2 so I can't view your workbook but I think that it's an interesting idea to basically have a help table.  I currently use a combination of tooltips and a help icon which links to a page with dashboard documentation.



          • 2. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
            Lee Forst

            Thanks for the comment and sorry about the version.  Here is a screen shot of what one of the dashboards looks like.  The Select Help Topic dropdown shows relevant values based on the filter on Worksheet.  This way only topics for the sheet are shown.



            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
              Ivan Young

              That's very cool.  I hadn't really explored putting help topics into a table but it seems like a good idea.  With Help in  a data table you could potentially use parameters and floating objects to have help appear in certain areas when the param is true.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                Shawn Wallwork

                My favorite way of dealing with help is to use different variations on the technique pioneered  by @Robert_Rouse. I've used his 'off-screen' hide, as well as hiding help info behind charts. You can do it for individual charts, or one big chart. The advantage is you don't have to go to an Excel file to change the text, since these help containers are usually built out of dashboard text boxes, images, and even links to URLs. And because it's a set of containers, it can include additional charts (unlike a tooltip, at the moment). Here's the link to his blog on this:




                And here's a recent example of what I'm talking about. This is the dashboard:


                And when you click the menu icon:


                In this case I'm giving them access to filters, but you can put whatever you want in the hidden container. Also instead of going off-screen, I'm just hiding it behind the chart. I set everything up with the 'fly-out' containers being in front of everything, and then when everything is adjusted just right I send the whole set to the back.


                In this particular project the main purpose to hide all the filters was so it would print a 'clean' PDF and PowerPoint ready image.


                Lots of options, have fun!





                5 of 5 people found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                  Lee Forst

                  Shawn, I had not seen this strategy and love it.  Thank you for recommending it.  I'm going to leave this unanswered for a few more days to solicit more ideas.

                  • 6. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                    Hope Stiles

                    I am pretty new at this, but I use a single info button for the dashboard instead of one for every worksheet.  Then when you hover the tooltip gives information needed for each worksheet on the dashboard.  I suppose it could get pretty long, but it allows me to be consistent using the same image on every dashboard in the same place for users to look for additional information.  I place it in the top left corner with the Dashboard title in the top center and the organizations logo on the top right.

                      temp info button.JPG

                    • 7. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                      Michael Hesser


                      I can't say enough about Shawn Wallwork's suggestion regarding pop-up menus. They're very slick.


                      Have you considered using Stories to lead your user through the process? I realize this might mean a lot of pages, but I've found it helpful when it comes to Getting Started.


                      Good luck! --Michael

                      • 8. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                        Michael Hesser

                        Hope: I really like this idea, especially the reasons you've given to support it.

                        My users like predictability & dependability, and an on-screen help button in the same spot would fit the bill.


                        Can you direct me to where I can find the code for this?



                        • 9. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                          Hope Stiles



                          Here is how I do it.

                          Create a calculated field, I call mine Blank.  The Calculation is simply " ".  The Quotation marks and the space.

                          I place that on the rows shelf.

                          Set the mark to shape and choose the one you want.  I use a custom shape I downloaded, I'll attach for you.

                          Then you click on the tooltip and type whatever you'd like in there.



                          Proprietary code, but I guess I can share .



                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                          • 11. Re: Better way to provide help/instructions on dashboards
                            Lee Forst

                            Hope, Michael, and Kettan, thank you for your input.  What led me to post this in the first place was to find a way to avoid creating a sheet containing an icon to then put tool tips on to provide help.  I've used this approach in the past and it is a fine approach.  Especially if the workbook is small and only contains a couple dashboards\views.  In more complex dashboards\views, this approach often doesn't feel right.  I like the hiding panel approach as previously mentioned .  And I agree with most of the suggested features listed and I voted up some of them.  There are certainly some simple improvements that could be made to the product to help with this topic.  What I was trying to achieve was something that was intuitive for user, provide the help within the proper context, and have it as dynamic as possible.  A lot of this is very situational and I get that.


                            This is a great discussion.  I bet one of the awesome Tableau bloggers out there has some material in this post to create a great blog post demonstrating a lot of these techniques.  Thanks again for pitching in on this topic.  I've learned a lot.