Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles might be some of our holiday favorites, but why should we limit festive traditions to the cozy confines of our tactfully decorated, garland adorned and pine-scented homes? ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all, so how about we spread some holiday cheer and fully embrace the season by decking our dashboards with boughs of holly?
Dundas BI – Dundas’ fully open, end-to-end Business Intelligence (BI) platform – is nothing if not customizable, and what better opportunity to demonstrate its flexibility than with a little holiday-dashboard-modification-how-to of our own? While customization properties in the platform are a-plenty, in this post, I’ll be unwrapping four unique ways in which you can add some festive flair to your dashboards.
Use Styles and Themes to Create a Winter Wonderland
In Toronto, nothing signals the start of the holidays quite like waking up to a barrage of fluffy, white snowflakes, and timely street-car delays. Perhaps more telling that Winter is upon us than these signs, however, are the distinctive colors of the season. Stark whites, steely blues, and bands of silver fill our peripherals at every turn.
To make our dashboards consistently festive, we can leverage Styles and Themes within Dundas BI. Styles and Themes give us an easy way to set and save the appearance settings for components, data visualizations, and filters, and apply them to other content (dashboards, reports, data visualizations, etc.).
My first recommendation is to select a color palette straight out of a Mariah Carey Christmas special and apply it to as many dashboard elements as possible. During the holidays, throw caution (and best practices) to the wind! I personally am fond of the palette below; feel free to add some bold, complementary colors (such as reds and greens) to guarantee key elements on your dashboards POP!
From top to bottom: #272343, #FFFFFF, #E3F6F5, #BAE8E8
The majority of component and data visualization properties in Dundas BI can be styled with Styles. In a mere matter of clicks, we can change the make-up of an element (such as setting button colors to Forest Green), save it as a unique Style, and then apply that Style to numerous additional elements. We’ll simply navigate to our Properties tab -> Look and have at it!
For step-by-step details on how this can be done, read this document on Styles.
Once we’ve enough Styles in our holiday sack, we’re able to create Themes, which are collections of existing Styles that can be applied all at once to a view such as a dashboard or report. A typical scenario for using Themes is when you have several related dashboards and you want all their contents to have a consistent appearance from one dashboard to the next (which we obviously want over the holidays).
Silver Bells, Silver Bells, Literally Add Some Silver Bells
Whether you reside in a house in the suburbs, a condo in the heart of the city, or a houseboat on the Amstel River, we’re all linked over the holidays by an inextricable love of decorations (some more so than others). Decorations are a beacon of light and life amidst the darkness and dreariness of Winter. The appearance of them, more so than colors, are telltale signs that the festive spirit is alive and well.
To add a splash of extravagance to our dashboards, we can decorate them, from top-to-bottom, by adding image files reflective of the season: I’m talking stockings, strings of lights, mistletoe, menorahs, and wreaths. Spruce up your dashboards and conjure up some ho-ho-holiday fun by simply dragging-and-dropping JPEGs or PNGs directly onto your Dundas BI dashboards.
We can even take this a step further, and leverage Custom Diagrams to bring our data to life both visually and contextually. Let’s get practical for a minute. It’s well known that images are more effective than text. So, ipso facto, by visually communicating complex information in a conceptual display that relates to the real environment, we’re able to better understand our data and ultimately act on it.
All that to say, we can also tie relevant holiday imagery to our data to more effectively communicate insights. For example, here’s a sample dashboard I built for another blog (which, ironically, uses our ideal festive color palette) that brings imagery highly relevant to our specific business objectives to the dashboard in a fun, practical, and interactive manner.
Switch those bikes to sleighs and you’ve got yourself a very merry dashboard! All that’s missing are the reindeer…
Ho-Ho-Hold On! This Dashboard is Loading
In an ideal world, loading screens wouldn’t exist. But it’d take a Christmas miracle to make that happen. Rather than fight their existence, I’m going to tell you why you better not pout the next time you’re asked to implement one. Loading screens (believe it or not) do serve a purpose. They inform visitors (and in this case, dashboard users) that the dashboard they’re about to view is loading all the resources it needs to display itself in all its sparkling glory.
And get this… Loading screens don’t have to be boring! There’s no law stating loading screens must include the spinning wheel of death. At this point, you’re already all-in on jazzing up your dashboards anyways, so why not delight your users while they wait as well? Here’s a great Christmas stocking loading animation from Code My UI that you can easily replicate in Dundas BI with the tiniest, elf-on-the-shelf sized amount of scripting.
For a sample on how to create a custom loading layer in Dundas BI, check out our Script Library. This sample will show a loading layer on the dashboard loading event and will hide that layer on the dashboard ready event.
Hark! The Herald Dashboard Sings
Elevators, on the other hand, are boring. As such, elevator music (once used to soothe the fears of skittish riders) was often used as a distraction to fend off boredom and keep people’s mind’s off the time it takes to traverse from one floor to the next. And while elevator music may not be as common today (after all, we’ve smartphones to keep us preoccupied), the concept of it can be applied to our dashboards, and in particular, our loading screens.
Dundas BI was designed with embeddability and flexibility in mind. Its fully open, public APIs allow us to easily customize and extend the platform to our specific needs. So, in the spirit of the holidays, let’s have some fun with this! With Dundas BI, we’re able to embed audio contentdirectly within a dashboard. If you’ve been following along so far, you can probably guess what that means… It’s high-time we channel our inner Michael Buble (shout out Canada) and embed some velvety smooth Christmas vocals in our loading screens.
Here’s a great, downloadable sample of how you can embed audio (and video!) content directly in a dashboard. By the way, don’t feel like you’re limited in adding audio elements only to your loading screens. This content can be embedded anywhere.
And there you have it! 4 simple ways to add some festive cheer to your dashboards and bring the holidays to life. If you’ve created your own holiday dashboards or added a sprinkling of fairy dust to existing ones, we’d love to see them! Make sure you share a link in the comments below to your creations.
If you’re interested in testing some (or all) of these features out for yourself, start your free evaluation of Dundas BI today.
About the Author
Jordan Zenko is the Community & Content Manager at Dundas Data Visualization. As Dundas’ resident (and self-proclaimed) story-teller, he authors in-depth content that educates developers, analysts, and business users on the benefits of business intelligence.Follow on Linkedin