If you publish something interactive to the web, how is your audience supposed to know it is interactive? And how do you instruct them what to do to interact?
When a user sees a dashboard for the first time, they need to learn how to read it and how to interact with it.
You can do this in many ways. Often I see people put the instructions somewhere on the viz or on an instructional tooltip. Here’s an example from a recent Viz of the Day:
That’s fine but there is one major problem: most people don’t read the text on your viz. They’ll probably read the title but not much else.
One way you can inform a user they can interact is through tooltips and that’s what I will cover here.
Interactivity can be divided into 3 types, all of which are available in Tableau. Something can be triggered when a user:
- …hovers their mouse over something (how does this replicate on mobile? That’s a question for another post)
- …clicks on a data point
- …lassos and selects some marks of the interactive
In Tableau, these are defined a “Hover”, “Select” and “Menu”. If you’re new to actions, I recommend this post by Peter Gilks.
For my Design Month dashboard, I chose to go with a Menu action. I like the fact that when a user hovers their mouse over a mark, a nice customised tooltip with a call to action appears right where their eyes are looking.
I used a Menu action but a similar trick can be achieved with a Select action. Using a Select action gives you more control over the format of the Call to Action. I like this example from another recent Viz of the Day:
This technique is not perfect:
- There isn’t a Hover equivalent on a mobile interface.
- What if the user DOESN’T move their mouse over the viz?
Which actions do you prefer in your dashboards? What else do you consider when instructing people about interactivity?