Data-Ink.com Dashboards & Data Visualization

29May/130

My Favorite Mockup Tool for Dashboards

Since becoming a full-time BI consultant focusing on dashboard development, I have found that mockups and wire-frames are critical tools of the trade. While I have tried other tools (I particularly liked Balsamiq), I've realized that I always come back to PowerPoint. Why? Well for a number of really good reasons...

1.) It's Powerful - shapes, layers, and hyperlinks to mimic navigation

2.) It's Universal - Everyone can move stuff around, add comments and share with others, without needing special software. Images and PDFs are also pretty universal, but not as easy to edit.

3.) It's Reusable - Many elements can be reused for different dashboard wireframes, and best of all, I can use backgrounds and custom shapes from PowerPoint as image components in SAP Dashboards.

4.) It's Familiar - After using PowerPoint for 15+ years, it has become the fastest way for me to produce a good wireframe.

On the other hand, it can be frustrating and inefficient when you start to have a bunch of custom shapes and diagrams spread across numerous PowerPoint files. While I have several 'template' files, but works as well as the PowerMockup add-in. It gives you a separate menu to store custom diagrams and comes with huge stencil library on it's own. And when you're done, anyone else can open and edit the file and see the stencils as native PowerPoint shapes.

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The following image shows what the stencil menu looks like. As you can see, there are a ton of options and you can add custom categories to catalog your own shapes/stencils.
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One of the best parts about the existing stencils is that you can edit them, and even right-click to un-group most of them. Here I have used the Sign In Form and changed the 'username' label.
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Next I can take the existing line chart, and make a color version to add to my stencil library with a few quick clicks. Taking it one step further, I can create an area chart as well.
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Now for the true test, let me create a mobile dashboard mockup in less than a minute...
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If I wanted to reuse that summary box on the top right, all I have to do is group those objects, and right-click to add to library. Now I have that box as a stencil and can easily drop the duplicates into place to finish the mockup!
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I personally have found PowerMockup for PowerPoint to save me a great deal of time! If you are building dashboard wireframes in PowerPoint, you might be missing out on this great tool. There is even a trial version which allows you to save custom stencils and gives you access to a portion of the pre-built library.

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If you have a chance to use it, feel free to drop me an email and let me know what you think.

- EXTRA -

I just found this blog post by the creator, which looks like a good read: Wireframing & Storyboarding in PowerPoint

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