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Guide to Creating Pivot Tables and Dashboards

If you’ve saved your data on an Excel table, you can leverage Excel PivotTables to summarize the data as required. The potent tool makes it easy to slice and dice your data, allowing you to analyze and track hundreds of thousands of data points using a compact table that you can change dynamically to view the data’s different perspectives. The tool is simple to use and powerful as well.

Microsoft Excel now offers an excellent approach to merging various tables, external data sources, and data sources into a single PivotTable. This is known as the Power PivotTable and works on its Data Model database.

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Essential Considerations When Building the Dashboard

Before you begin, you must first reflect on the dashboard’s purpose, whey you need it, the origin of the data, and the necessary and unnecessary capabilities.

It would help to mock up the dashboard on a single piece of paper. Create boxes for each type of data to grasp the layout and include quick sketches of the graphs you wish to have. The mockup will get your audience on the same page and earn stakeholder approval before spending money and time on the definite dashboard.

Here are the key considerations when creating the dashboard:

  • Dashboard elements – Know everything you wish to include on the dashboard. Options include static tables, dynamic charts, pivot tables, non-charting objects, and Excel gauge widgets. Understanding the necessary dashboard elements will help you classify similar data sets together and hint at the layout.
  • Dashboard background color – You must also define the amount of color you wish to incorporate. You can include a dashboard background color to make the elements pop or use color-code similar charts.
  • Enhancing the user interface – It’s crucial to determine the importance of ease of use. You may include hierarchy on the layout to simplify navigation, add labels to graphs using auto-shape objects, put drop-down lists, or prevent scrolling by users using freeze panes.

Creating the Ultimate Excel Dashboard

Follow these steps to build an excellent Excel dashboard:

Prepare Your Source Data​

Whether you wish to use a massive amount of data or a limited one, your first step should be preparing your data source. Then, once you’ve collected the data, begin with putting it in a simple table.

This is important for two reasons. First, you can name the table, and every time you wish to use the information (like referencing it as your Pivot Table source data), you’ll only type the word into the reference. Second, you can easily include new information right under the data table automatically.

So if you include the name in your references, you won’t be required to update your data references when adding new data.

Generate Pivot Charts and Pivot Tables 

After preparing your data set, begin developing and designing your Pivot Charts and Pivot Tables that fill your dashboard with life.

Every Pivot Chart begins with a Pivot Table. Once you’ve created the table, you can drag and drop the relevant data fields into the columns, rows, and values section of the Pivot Table. You’ll then easily create the Pivot Charts by picking a cell inside the table.

Open the Insert tab, then select Pivot Chart. You’ll find a simple vertical bar chart as the default chart type, but you can easily change this at the Chat Design tab in the Change Chart Type option. This works for all chart types, except the Waterfall and Map charts, which require you to copy Pivot Table information outside the Pivot Table. You’ll then add a regular chart referencing the copied data.

To create your Pivot Table’s dynamic copy outside the table, copy the column and row headers, then reference the specific values using the GETPIVOTDATA function. This function applies all the Pivot Table filtering to that cell.

Finally, ensure you get rid of any unnecessary chart element that already exists in the preparation phase.

Raw Dashboard Design

A great design should make your audience focus on what matters. This begins with visually distinguishing the actual dashboard area from the background noise. Most people use a darkened image background scaled to cover the entire visible region.

As contrast, you can use an advanced tile design with color differentiation. For instance, you can combine a darker background with a semi-transparent, brighter gradient style design.

Add And Redesign Your Pivot Charts

Every chart must send the message in seconds, so avoid overloading the charts and dashboard tiles. Instead, use a visually appealing design that sends the message in a minimalistic way. Furthermore, to include extra details that explain the chart, you can deploy custom information buttons that hide and display attractive infoboxes.

After preparing your Pivot Charts, you can include them in your dashboard by simply cutting them out of the relevant datasheet and adding them to the dashboard datasheet. Notably, avoid using more than two basic harmonic colors and use slight variations of these colors instead. Various colors may lead to visual overload.

Use Slicers To Add Interactivity

This is the magic component if you wish to create cross-dimensionally filterable and interactive charts. Include a slicer for every dimension you’d like to filter in, then link all slicers to each chart. For an excellent overall dashboard design, use custom slicer designs since the default ones might destroy the entire appearance.

Do’s and Don’ts of Excel Dashboards

The following dos and don’ts will help you create a dynamic dashboard:

  • Freeze panes work – Using these can make the dashboard navigable. When you freeze all rows, viewers will see the entire dashboard in a single view without scrolling. Furthermore, you can freeze headings at the top to make them visible even when scrolling down the dashboard.
  • Group charts and shapes together – Your dashboard layout can be repetitive if you’ve placed different charts in one box layout. However, you can add hierarchy and visual interests to the dashboard by adding a shape then placing the chart on top of it.
  • Keep it simple – A straightforward, easy-to-grasp dashboard is more impactful than a “pretty” one. So beat the temptation to add gradients, 3D effects, extra shapes, and other whistles and bells. Rather, use the simplicity and readability of magazine formatting.
  • Use different tabs – Using multiple sheets for various things will keep your dashboard organized. For instance, a tab may hold the dashboard, then another used for the raw data populating the dashboard.
  • Include alerts for vital details – Include alerts (or green, yellow, and red balls) to convey status or highlight specific aspects of your dashboard quickly.

From the above tips, you’ll easily create interactive and visually appealing dashboards. But if you’re still experiencing difficulties, don’t hesitate to reach out for apt guidance from industry professionals. Reach out to Colorado Computer Support to learn more.

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