Better Power BI Reports/Dashboards: Save Time & Cost Via Enhanced UI/UX Templates

My first exposure to the Microsoft Power BI (Business Intelligence) self-service analytics application (aka PBI) was back in 2014, while I worked in the semiconductor industry. One of our business managers was creating these fantastic reports/dashboards that displayed data in more meaningful ways than mere PowerPoint presentations. His data visualizations were interactive, which could be dynamically pivoted with a single mouse click. This not only eliminated the onslaught of PowerPoint slides but more importantly, delivered actionable insights. Data-driven decisions could be settled at the end of a single meeting. This removed the necessity of a follow-up meeting to address action-items.

Fast forward to my next job: I was ecstatic to find that the market research company I worked for had the Microsoft Office 365 cloud application service available to employees. Many apps were sitting dormant, however, to include Power BI. I decided to immerse myself into learning as much as I could about business intelligence through the use of Power BI. This commenced with performing a power query to connect to both static and live datasets, such as Excel spreadsheets, SharePoint lists, Salesforce objects/reports, and SQL Server databases. Next, I transformed the data through the use of filters, changing data types, splitting columns, or simply renaming them. Often, extensive calculations were needed (using the DAX language) to shape the data into custom fields. Finally, the data was fed into desirable charts and other visualizations.

Although I successfully connected, extracted, transformed, and loaded the data; the front-end design of my reports/dashboards was another matter that required attention. If they lacked luster by displaying a poor user interface (UI), it would provide for poor user experience (UX). Reflecting on the business manager’s reports/dashboards (semiconductor industry) and reaching into my knowledge and experience of UI/UX, I was able to enhance my interfaces with an exquisite design that didn’t upstage the “insights.” A fanciful design doesn’t provide much value if the insights aren’t spotlighted!

Since I also have a background in graphic design, I contemplated if my PBI design layouts could look less like the typical dashboard chart quadrants and more eye-catching via customized graphics (the analytics platform Tableau does well with this). I wasn’t sure it could be achieved, but after a decent amount of R&D, I was able to create interfaces with customized graphics that grab the user’s attention and encourage their interaction through impressive data visualizations.

Conceptualizing, designing, and building a Power BI interface can be painstaking when incorporating many carefully arranged design elements and can expend many man-hours. If only there were Power BI templates on the market that could be utilized to give you a “head start.” When designing websites, I’ve used many templates, but haven’t located many prime-powerful Power BI templates on the market. A good PBI template should include sample data that can be repopulated. It should also include sample icons and color palettes that you can either use or replace at their respective location on the canvas. Lastly, it should consist of a layout that closely matches your desired report/dashboard design. Simply speaking, you would only need to add your branding, but the interface remains much the same.

If they lacked luster by displaying a poor user interface (UI), it would provide for poor user experience (UX).

Businesses and organizations today are under extremely tight budgets and need to maximize productivity and results as efficiently as possible. Cutting out "waste" at every corner is essential for success, so expending effort in areas that can add time and cost should be eliminated. This led me to create Power BI templates as product offerings that are stunning and inexpensive. Why spend time and money when you don’t have to? Meaning; you might spend 2.5-hours designing and building an initial interface. If your BI developer or UI/UX designer is paid $45-hour, you’ll spend $112.50 when you can simply pay $15! This then enables them to “hit the ground running” towards completing the bulk of your report/dashboard. Using a template just makes sense.

(View my PBI templates by clicking here.)