QlikView Design

As you probably already know as your reading this; QlikView has an incredibly rich palette of design options. Your data can be surfaced and presented in all manner of ways with pizzazz – making it leap off the page and demand to be noticed. However, not all attention is good – if your latest chart creation is noticed only for its dizzying array of colours then it is likely that the insight in the numbers will have been lost.

So, how can this be avoided? Developing your own style and refining it takes months of using the tool.  There are however textbooks available (my personal recommendation being Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few) and dedicated blogs such as the ever excellent QVDesign Blog by Matthew Crowther.

This post however aims to give five key pointers to getting your design right.

Sales 2012

Keep it Simple
One of the temptations when opening the QlikView box of toys is to get everything out and play.  I have seen awful examples of a developer ‘trying stuff out’ and then leaving it in a production app.  Classic misused features are Radar charts and animated dimensions – both are visually interesting but need to only be used in the right circumstances.  Even simple options, like 3D effects and multi-coloured bars can serve to hide meaning rather than amplify it.

Stick to a Theme
This point actually covers two bases.  First is ensuring that where possible there is as much consistency between objects and tabs as possible.  Use of the Linked Objects feature (added in QV10) helps in this, but consistency goes beyond this.  Use of QlikView theme files are also a must – ensure a theme is applied and also set as a default. This will ensure that the same fonts and colours are used throughout your app.  Theme files can be used for more than just skinning a whole document – but that is a topic for a future blog post.

Use the Right Object
This sounds obvious, but it is amazing how often I come across apps where this has been got wrong.  Apply the basic rules of data presentation and design here.  If you don’t know what these are then get a reference book or some training.  A classic mistake is the use of a line chart for non linear data. My favorite example though was use of gauges where the values did not fit in a specific range – the developer therefore calculated the upper bound as the current value plus n percent. This meant that as the selections changed the needle stayed static and just the small numbers around the edge changed value – classic!  No insight gained and much space wasted on the page.

Fast Change
A good way of providing a varied selections of visualisations, without blowing all of the screen space is to implement Fast Changes. For those who have not discovered these an icon in the caption bar allows a toggle of the chart type.  I tend to use these a lot for for showing raw values as well as a chart of those values.  Although this is a great feature, be wary. It is easy to slip into poor chart type choices by just selecting multiple types. Also you need to set all properties, such as font and alignment for each fast change type you select.  This leads nicely onto my final point….

Everything Matters
It is a phrase I have purloined from Panasonic adverts, but I think the sentiment is spot on and I use it a lot when talking about QlikView design.  As a developer or designer of QlikView apps you are crafting something that has to be both attractive and functional.  Users will likely spend large chunks of their working lives interacting with your offering – so you owe it to them to get it right.  I’ve already mentioned colours, alignment and font selection.  Other common slips are leaving redudant icons on caption bars (there is never, I believe, cause for maximize icons), work in progress objects left on the screen, misplaced or oversized objects causing excess scroll bars, sloppy data modelling or loading – the list goes on.  Some of these items I have covered in other blog posts, but all I will add here is to suggest you carefully consider each object you place in your app.  Everything Matters.

Design Best Practice Demonstration
This video demonstrates some of the techniques described above, showing how an amateur looking chart can be shown some TLC to get it looking more presentable.


You will no doubt develop your own style, that will not necessarily look anything like my own, but the key thing is that design is given the consideration it deserves.

By |2017-03-02T11:51:47+00:00August 20th, 2012|QlikView Tutorial, Video|8 Comments

About the Author:

Steve is owner and principal consultant at Quick Intelligence. He is a Qlik Luminary, Qlik Community MVP and Technical Editor of a number of QlikView Books.

8 Comments

  1. Brian Garland August 21, 2012 at 4:07 am - Reply

    Nice post. I wish there was a community repository for nice, functional themes people have created. None of the ones that come with QlikView are that great, in my humble opinion.

    • Steve Dark August 21, 2012 at 6:21 am - Reply

      Thanks Brian. I’m sure someone could create the online theme library.

      Any takers?

  2. Nikolas Daley August 21, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    A good starting point when establishing a theme for a client, especially larger corporates, is to look at their existing applications. Often its easier to mimic an established look-and-feel than to try and create a new one from scratch.

    • Steve Dark August 21, 2012 at 9:28 am - Reply

      Completely agree Nikolas. I tend to create a theme from a prospects web site before even doing the first presentation to them.

  3. Matthew Crowther August 22, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply

    Steve,

    Many thanks for the Blog mention – much appreciated.

    I agree with every word. Design doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s simply a case of following some very simple rules and most of all not being lazy when implimenting those rules because as you say: ‘Everything Matters’.

    My favourite way to demonstrate this to people is to start with a dashboard that follows all the rules – everything lines up, consistent colours, correct chart choices etc and then make less than 10 simple changes that completely ruin it; moving a few listboxes, altering colours, adding superfluous icons etc. It really makes people notice that the last 1% of the design is often the most important.

    I have to say the Line chart being used for non-linear data is one of my pet hates, nothing shouts ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ more than doing that, if you do you’re just creating pretty pictures and not thinking about what it is you’re showing.

    All the best,

    Matt – QVDesign
    @QlikviewBI

    • Steve Dark August 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Matt. Your blog certainly deserves the mention it gets here.

      I shall have to try your demonstration of destroying good design out sometime soon – sounds like a great way to make people think about look and feel.

  4. Brian Booden August 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Good post, Steve.

    As someone who creates QlikView applications for clients on a regular basis, i often seem to find that my applications look “the same”. That does not actually bother me any more. And the reason for that is that i know i have covered the majority of the bases in terms of the basics – themes and styles, alignment, colour, correct chart types, and most importantly, consistency.

    There is a definite temptation to re-invent the wheel for every application, but my experience is that clients really do not care if you have produced a largely “by the book” app for them. If it is easy (and enjoyable!) to use, and it exposes the data in the necessary way, that’s the important thing.

    I suppose i’d summarise by saying that it’s better to create a simpler, cleaner application that functions well, than a flashy, over-exuberant one that fails to solve the key problems it was brought in to do.

    I think your post sums that up well.

  5. Saravana Prabhu September 13, 2012 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing..

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