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Ewan Maalerud

Ewan Maalerud

Ewan is part of the Digital Customer Experience team for SAP Analytics Cloud, based in Vancouver, Canada. He’s passionate about data analytics and communicating the value of using data to optimize business outcomes.

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Stories in SAP Analytics Cloud are where your data comes to life. It’s where raw data becomes powerful visualizations, helping you identify key influencers driving your performance and make better data-driven decisions about your business. Stories are made up of one or more pages, each containing various charts, graphs, tables, widgets, and other visual elements.

In this post, we discuss some of the best ways to tell stories in SAP Analytics Cloud.

Choose a design

When creating a new story, you have the option to start with a blank canvas or to choose from one of our preformatted templates. There’s value in both.

  • Blank canvas gives you ultimate control and freedom to design your story any way you like. You don’t have to follow any particular structure or format, you’re free to place your charts, graphs, tables, and images anywhere.
  • Templates allow you to dive in and begin telling your story immediately. They’re a good option for those looking for an out-of-the-box professional look and who may not necessarily want to spend extra time with design.

story templates SAP Analytics Cloud

Choose the right data visualizations

There’s no right or wrong way to tell a story, that’s entirely up to you; however, there are right or wrong chart types. For instance, pie / donut charts have a particular use and are good for visualizing parts of a whole. Whereas a time-series chart is ideal for analyzing trends over time.

For help choosing the right chart, please refer to our Chart Type Guide.

Choose a direction

The best way to tell a story in SAP Analytics Cloud is to first define the information that’s of the highest priority. This will serve as the framework for how you layout your ideas.

The story above was intended to identify possible areas of growth for the business. It therefore made sense to have a geo-map as the focal point, a word cloud, and a time-series chart.

This tells a compelling story, defining neighborhood popularity, membership type, and monthly spend amount.

Keep it minimal

With the varying visualization types, the amount of data being shown to a user can be quite overwhelming. To ensure a user-friendly experience, ensure you leave plenty of white space to make the data digestible. Avoid using colors that are distracting and only use prominent shades when pinpointing or highlighting a specific point. Generally, more neutral colors will aid in creating an easy-to-read story.

Read left to right

As many cultures around the world are trained to read left to right, top to bottom, your stories should also follow this format. The first action or the most important element that you want your audience to focus on should be placed in the upper left corner of the page.

Group visualizations

Similar topics should be located next to each other so that they follow a logical format. As one topic flows nicely to the next, your story becomes more digestible.

Additional Resources

For more information about story design and using charts effectively, please check out our other posts.

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