R-Storytelling in Dashboards


Susie Lu introduces Explanatory vs exploratory data visualisations:

  • Explanatory = has a clear story (ex: most infographics or 'scrollytelling' websites you see)
  • Exploratory = enable people to examine data in various ways and reach their own conclusions (ex: a dashboard)

Susie Lu argues Exploratory is not the same as not having a narrative. Rather, it's like a [[!Choose Your Own Adventure]] story with a branching narrative. The narrative may branch

Storytelling devices you can use:

  • Setting the scene
  • Introducing concepts over time
  • Providing contrast
  • Pushing the narrative towards a climax

Susie's suggestions

  • Branch the narrative based on the user's goal
  • Provide different insights for different user needs
  • Branch the narrative based on the type of data you have.
  • Optimize your visualizations for different data scenarios.
  • Users should want to come back to your dashboard whenever they need to answer a question with that data.

What dashboard design can learn from games

  • Learn from game design and HUD as a mental model for a dashboard.
  • Design for multiple visits (plays) with easily recognised features and tools.
  • Clearly mark what you can interact with.
  • Make it easy to save and share.
  • Consider the user's 'inventory'. What tools do they need? Do they change over time? Do they persist?