The best way to capture your audience’s attention is to provide them with opportunities to interact with the data and find their own insights. One way to do that is the Collections feature, which creates a way to fold a series of charts or maps into an expandable drop-down experience. Your audience can choose to view the visualizations that are of most interest to them using a drop-down selection.
Collections are an excellent way to show the same dataset in different “slices” to match the interests of multiple audiences without wasting screen space or the attention span of your viewers. For example, collections can be a great way to show your resident satisfaction survey results by different demographic breakdowns (such as by race, age group, or city council district). This way, both your city council member and a local organization for aging services can both find the insights important to their unique work in your dashboard.
Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions for how to create a collection and pro tips for using collections effectively in your story.
How to Create a Collection
In your report or dashboard page, select the blue plus sign. Select Collection from the top row of the options presented. This will create a new collection component. This new collection is empty (does not contain any data or visualizations).
To begin customizing your collection, select the text box at the top (next to the blue “Done” checkmark) and give your collection a title. Your audience won’t see this title, but you can use it to add new content to your collection later.
How to Add Content to Your collection
Collections organize content in Screens. Each screen is an individual “bundle” of content that can be selected to display from the drop down menu.
To add content to the first screen, first title your screen in the text box. The titles you give your screens will be the visible options in the drop down for your audience to choose, so it helps to be descriptive.
Once you’ve given your screen a title, select the blue plus sign (just like you would elsewhere in the report). This allows you to add a new chart or map to your collection. Build your chart or map using the same steps as those shown here.
To create a second screen, select Add Screen. Then repeat the steps above to title your second screen add another chart or map to your screen.
You can expand or hide a screen while you’re working by selecting the square icon on the left hand side of the light gray “screen header” bar. The “screen header” bar is where you can also edit, delete or duplicate that screen using the icons on the right hand side.
Tips for Using Collections Effectively
Use collections to show different ways of understanding the same data. Avoid showing disparate datasets in the same collection. This helps keep your story crystal clear for your audience, whereas adding too many different datasets to a single drop-down experience can make it harder for your audience to connect to your key point.
Limit the number of visualizations in each screen to one or two maps or charts. Just like the tip above, simplicity makes it easier to understand the data they are looking at and the story you are telling. Too many visualizations at once can make it hard to identify what the important takeaway is.
Be selective about when and where you use collections in your story. Collections are most impactful when used strategically to make a particularly powerful point or to provide a consistent way of organizing your data.
Take inspiration from great examples. There are many dashboards that use collections effectively to tell a more compelling story. You can view a few at the links below:
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