Interactive Infographics with Power BI – No experience needed (Part 1/2)

If you are familiar with Business Dashboards (via Excel or other business tools), I’m pretty sure that you’ve come across at-least one or two infographics whilst googling creative dashboard designs (because let’s face it, if you build dashboards for a living or even as a hobby, you want them to look stunning – googling is inevitable)

So, what in the heck is an infographic?

An infographic (information graphic) is a representation of information in a graphic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. People use infographics to quickly communicate a message, to simplify the presentation of large amounts of data, to see data patterns and relationships, and to monitor changes in variables over time.” – WhatIs.com

..infographics are used by all levels of management for high-level views of data. Infographics include bar graphspie chartshistograms, line charts, tree diagrams, mind maps, Gantt charts, and network diagrams. Such tools are often components of business intelligence software.” – WhatIs.com

In layman’s terms, infographics assist in creating “pictures” of our data. And as the old saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words.

Below is a screenshot of the infographic that we’ll be creating in Power BI.

There are numerous tools that you can use to design infographics. From paid business tools like Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint & Publisher all the way to free tools like Canva and Power BI.

In Part 1 of this tutorial. we’ll have a look at the following:

  1. How to set up our Power BI Infographic Canvas
  2. How to insert and “populate” our first Bar Chart

———————————————————————————————————-

In order to follow along you will need the following:

  • A computer running Microsoft Windows (7 or later)
  • Power BI Desktop – download here: PowerBI
  • Microsoft Excel / Google Sheets
  • Copy of the Dataset used in this tutorial – download here: Dataset (as always, this is a fictional dataset and any resemblance to someone you may or may not know, is purely coincidental)

Let’s get started.

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 1: Download and Install Power BI Desktop

For this tutorial, we’ll be using Power BI Desktop and not Power BI Online. (We’ll have a look at the differences in a later tutorial).

The install process is very simple, but if you do get stuck, feel free to Google for some assistance.

To download Power BI, navigate to this page and click the download button.

Simply follow the onscreen prompts and you’re done.

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 2: Download the Dataset

  • Click on this link: Dataset (you don’t need at Dropbox account to download the data)
  • When the page loads, click on “Download” and then “Direct Download”. (If the “Download” button is not visible, you should see three little dots (…) at the top right of your screen. Once you click on them, you’ll be given the “Download” option)
  • Then click on “No thanks, continue to download”
  • The file should be downloaded under your “Downloads” folder on your computer (or “My Documents”, depending on your default settings).
  • Copy the file to a location that you prefer. For this tutorial, my file will be stored in my “Downloads” folder.

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 3: Launch Power BI Desktop

You can launch Power BI Desktop by clicking on the Power BI icon on your desktop or by clicking on the Windows start menu and typing Power BI.

You should see the following window:

You can click the “X” – close button – for now.

You’ll be presented with a blank “canvas”:

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 4: Setup the Infographic display (Canvas)

  1. Click anywhere on the blank canvas (the big white block)
  2. In the right-hand menu select the “Paint roller”
  3. Click on “Page Size”
  4. Select “Custom” from the drop-down menu
  5. Change the “Width” to “1400” pixels and the “Height” to “3000” pixels.

If done correctly, your canvas should look like this:

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 5: Infographic Background and Theme

For this Infographic, I want to use of a dark background with white text and light purple graphs (you can use any color scheme that you prefer).

  1. Click anywhere on the blank canvas
  2. In the right-hand menu select the “Paint roller”
  3. Click on “Page Background”
  4. Click the “Color Picker” button
  5. In the second column from the left, select the fourth color from the top (as indicated below)

If done correctly, your canvas should look like this:

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 6: Import the Dataset

In the ribbon at the top of your screen:

  1. Click the “Get Data” button
  2. Select “Excel”
  1. Navigate to the folder where you downloaded/moved the Dataset
  2. Select the Excel Workbook
  3. Click on “Open”

In the window that pops-up:

  1. Ensure that the tick box next to your Dataset is ticked
  2. Click on “Load”
  3. The data to the right of the screen is an indication of the data that will be imported. You don’t have to change anything.

Once you click load, you might see a window similar to the one below (depending on the “power and speed” of your computer). Just let it load. If it takes a while, go make yourself a hot cup of super strong black coffee…..yummy.

Once the Dataset is done importing, you should see the column headings (contained in your workbook) on the right-hand side of your screen.

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 7: Adjust the View

The “View” tab is an essential component when creating Infographics (and other Dashboards) in Power BI. You may need to jump back and forth between the various views to assist with development.

  1. Click on “View” in the ribbon
  2. Click on “Page View”
  3. Click on “Actual Size”

This will “zoom-in” on our canvas, providing us with a better view for inserting and editing graphs.

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 8: Inserting Graphs

  1. On the right-hand menu (under Visualizations), select the “Bar Chart” button.
  2. You will note that a blank Bar Chart has been generated on the left of the screen. You can drag the bar chart anywhere on the canvas.

You can repeat this step for inserting any of the Visualizations (graphs) currently provided in Power BI (under the Visualizations tab)

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 9: “Populating” Graphs

Simply inserting a graph isn’t very useful if it doesn’t contain any data.

Let’s populate our bar chart with the information contained in our imported dataset.

  1. Ensure that the Bar Chart is selected/highlighted.
  2. Click on the “Fields” button (left of the Paint roller), if not automatically selected.
  3. Click and drag the “Org_Unit_Name” field to the “Axis” tab, as indicate in the picture below.
  4. Click and drag the “Name” field to the “Value” tab.

You will see your bar-chart change as you make changes to the various fields.

Our bar chart is missing a few components. The data labels for each bar is missing, the title isn’t very clear and the text is difficult to read…so let’s fix it 🙂

———————————————————————————————————-

Step 10: Visualization Color and Labels (see images below)

  1. Ensure that your bar-chart is selected.
  2. Resize your chart to make it easier to read (you will see the resize icon as soon as you hover the mouse-pointer around the edges of the graph)
  3. On the right-hand menu select the “paint roller”.
  4. Click on “Y-Axis” top open the Y-Axis property menu and ensure that the slider next to “Y-Axis” is set to “On”.
  5. In the “Color” drop-down menu, select the color you prefer. In this case I selected white.
  6. Ensure that the slider next to “Title” is set to “Off”.
  7. Complete these steps for the “X-Axis” as well.
  8. Click on “Data labels” to open the Data labels property menu and ensure that the slider next to “Data labels” is set to “On”.
  9. In the “Color” drop-down menu, select the color you prefer. In this case I selected white.

If done correctly, your graph should look something like this:

The last thing we need to change is the chart’s Title and Color Scheme.

With the bar-chart selected:

  1. Click on the “paint roller” in the right-hand menu
  2. Click on the “Title” drop-down menu – ensure that the slider net to “Title” is set to “On”
  3. Click the “Font color” drop-down box and select “White”
  4. Set the title’s alignment to “Center”
  5. Change the title’s font-size to “10”
  6. Click on the “Data colors” drop-down menu
  7. Click the “Default color” drop-down box and select “Light Purple” – or any other color that you prefer.

If done correctly, your bar-chart should look like this:

———————————————————————————————————-

That is it for the first part of this two part tutorial.

Please stay tuned for the second installment where we will have a look at how to:

  1. Divide our infographic into separate sections/divisions
  2. Insert and “populate” more advanced bar -and column-charts
  3. Insert a Map-graph using the Longitude and Latitude data in our dataset.
  4. Add text-boxes that provide brief explanations about our graphs.

———————————————————————————————————-

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment in the comment section below.

Until next time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *