Updated: Jan 25
Do you ever feel the struggle of balancing not only a building a rockstar dashboard, but also engaging the stakeholders, understanding data source requirements, managing the overall project, and writing up the final documentation? Not all data and analytics groups have designated teammates or other departments in the company to assist with these pieces. Sometimes it’s a one man show, with all of these responsibilities falling on the dashboard developer themselves #SendHelp.
If you can relate, let me introduce you to a tool that my team member (and low-key data guru) Quy Nguyen shared with me. It’s called Miro:
I was skeptical at first. Another GoogleDoc type program where multiple people can work on the file at the same time. Is this really going to be helpful in our now primarily virtual working environments? I watched Quy use it in a couple of client meetings and was surprised by the level of engagement, benefits, and productivity. People who were hesitant to turn on their cameras or speak up now had a “safer” space to contribute their ideas.
So, I started playing with the platform and the learning curve was surprisingly small. Once I got the hang of it, I also started using Miro during my client meetings. The feedback from stakeholders was incredible. It not only engaged the client and made our “just another zoom meeting” more fun and collaborative, but I realized it also helped me (the dashboard developer) with so many elements that are typically cumbersome. Convinced yet? Let’s break it down.
Using Miro for Tableau Dashboard Projects
For dashboard discovery
The one thing data viz experts recommend starting with but is typically the hardest to nail down, is the overall business question. And perspective is everything. Leadership might want to see high level callouts and information, analysts might want to see row level data for further reporting, and everything in between.
Discovery helps identify the who, why, what, and how of a Tableau dashboard. Depending on the project, sometimes this is an hour-long meeting, sometimes it’s weeklong sessions, and sometimes it’s revisiting it again to make sure everyone is still aligned.
I use Miro to help our clients map out this framework. I created a simple table that helps us identify 5 key elements:
Audience – who are the target/key end users?
Business Question – what is the main question, or questions, your audience is trying to answer? What’s the use case?
Key Metrics – what data metrics will be incorporated (both dimensions and measures)?
Key Features – what specific functionality do you want this dashboard to have?
Desired Customer Journey – Truly think about the end user, what do you want their experience to be like? (Helps determine the best UX design
Before the client meeting, I fill out this table with what I believe the client wants and the questions I still have (the black text in each column). During the meeting, we walk through each element and add sticky notes to fill in the gaps. Sometimes this is me listening and adding the stickies, other times participants drop their thoughts and ideas directly into the live whiteboard. This environment creates a true virtual think tank, where we brainstorm, debate, and synergize.
What’s great about Miro is you can customize this table however you’d like. They have ready made templates or the ability to start with a blank slate.
For data source modeling
This is a very important step in the process – sketching out what the dashboard’s supporting data source needs to look like. This helps the team identify the:
Desired fields and how they should be connected (unions, joins, etc.)
Data sets that exist vs what need to be developed
Data fields that exist vs what need to be calculated in Tableau
Potential workload of the IT or data engineering team to get the data ready for the dashboard (which could impact timeline)
Luckily, Miro makes this easy! I created the following data model before our meeting, and then simply added notes, new data fields, and other changes during the client zoom call. I used individual boxes, but Miro also has a ton of process map templates to choose from.
This part might be my favorite. We are getting into dashboard design!
“Wireframing is a step in the dashboard design of a business intelligence application, representing a draft, not an exact match, of the final layout. It shows what the user interface will look like through rough images or screenshots.” – Logi Analytics
While Miro doesn’t have an out of the box wireframing template, our awesome AV founder Nelson Davis created a free wireframing template for anyone to use! It comes complete with colored stickies for each participant, common dashboard questions, and even a visual analytics guide for audiences who aren’t as familiar with certain chart types. Just type in “dashboard” in the Miro template search and select:
Dashboard High Level RV Live Session
Miro also has built a build in Chart app, where you can easily add and configure visual examples to add to your wireframe.
And it keeps getting better. Miro has a Wireframe Library app with UI components that are perfect for visualizing Tableau’s filters like the radial, dropdown, and type in options.
All else fails you can also use Miro’s Iconfinder extension to drag and drop dashboard elements. The possibilities are endless!
Put it all together and you’ve got a low fidelity wireframe! This really helps the client understand your vision for the design, while ensuring you’ve captured all the elements they are looking for.
Once you've come up with a wireframe, you will need the client's feedback through various iterations. Since Miro is a live whiteboard, viewers are able to add sticky notes, example screenshots, and leave comments (tagging a specific person if necessary). Miro creates an agile space for internal and external feedback as your improve your dashboard design, going from low, to medium, to high fidelity.
For dashboard project management
Communication is key. We all know it, but it’s not always easy to accomplish. Not sure if y’all can relate, but I typically communicate dashboard updates via email, which results in huge email chains, multiple (usually broken) dashboard links, and confusion. To keep everyone on the same page, I use Miro’s Kanban board and colored stickie notes. Miro makes dashboard communication easy and unified!
The Kanban board creates an action plan of To-Do’s, In progress, and Done tasks. You can easily drag and drop the blue cards to other columns as the status changes. You can also recolor, tag, or add assignee to any of the cards for further project management and accountability.
I use the color-coded sticky notes for keeping up with my own tasks on the project. It helps me as the Tableau developer have a clear picture of what needs to be done and have that satisfied feeling of coloring a task green as if I’ve checked it off my list. Whenever I need to send a status update, instead of sending a long list via email, I simply send the Miro board link (which doesn’t change/break).
To me, this is the ultimate wow factor about Miro. Using Tableau, we can ensure that all of these notes, changes, design phases, feedback, etc. are all in one beautiful place!
In the Miro board, ensure that the boards sharing permissions are set up how you would like. I recommend setting the “Anyone with the link” to “Can view” if it’s more public, and “Can edit” if it’s more internal and you need interactivity and feedback from viewers. You can also set a password to access if necessary.
Navigate to the top left, click the share icon, and then click embed
In the new dialog box, set your desired configurations, and copy the embed code
Paste the code directly into the Miro board and copy only the hyperlink.
Go into your Tableau Dashboard, add a new Dashboard Tab called Miro Documentation, drag and drop a Web Page object that fits the entire frame, edit the URL, paste the Miro link, and click okay
And BAM! Now you have the fully interactive Miro page embedded in your Tableau dashboard! This is huge for your organization or clients to be able to reference back to everything that went into building the dashboard.
Miro is fun and flexible. Just like with Tableau dashboards, you can always push it to its limits and add your own flair
Miro training: https://academy.miro.com/