Creating a Power BI Dashboard -  A Step by Step Guide

Data Visualization became an important topic in the lives of many companies in the last couple of years. Data Visualization tools like Power BI allow executives to make important decisions faster while making data operations easier. 

Without setting and processing Data Visualization correctly, it’s had to monitor the efficiency of your sales, advertisement campaigns, business operations and performance of a business in general. To find out more on the subject read our fresh article on What is Data Visualization and Its Role for Business Growth

What is Power BI?

Due to ever-increasing popularity, Data Visualization comes in various shapes and sizes, which means there are currently a lot of Data Visualization tools and software on the market. Together with Tableau, and Google Data Studio, Power BI is a self-service Business Intelligence platform that combines web analytics with Artificial Intelligence capabilities and powerful data visualization. 

Created by Microsoft, it allows turning your Excel sheets into colourful charts for every end-user with the right access without having to rely on data scientists or IT professionals. It also provides a data warehouse, semantic models, an open connectivity framework, and an application lifecycle management (ALM) toolkit.

You can build and transform Power BI dashboards on your desktop – with your Operating System being exclusively Microsoft, or you can enjoy simplified data visualization capabilities on the Cloud using whichever OS you’d like.  

Unlike other more complex data visualization tools and software, Power BI is quite simple in use once you get a hang of it. You don’t need a degree or a background in data science to create a new dashboard in Power BI – just our step-by-step guide from InsightWhale and a love for a crazy adventure 😉

How to develop dashboards in Power BI? 

Since we established how important Data Visualization is in order for a company to become data-driven, here at InsightWhale we created a step-by-step guide on Power BI: Creating a Dashboard. 

Let’s begin!

Step 1: Download Power BI Desktop

As with any tool or software, the Power BI dashboard setup starts with signing up with Power BI or if you’ve already logged in, with its installation. To do so go to Power BI home > Sign up free > Start free trial. 

Once you’ve entered your name and work email address, you will be directed to your Power BI desktop homepage, where under My workspace you can find Dashboards, Reports, Workbooks or Datasets if you have any.  

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Now to download Power BI Desktop, look at your header and find a download sign ( ) > Power BI Desktop or go to We remind you that Power BI desktop is only compatible with Windows OS, so if you utilize any other Operating Systems like Linux or Mac OS, then mmmm-m tough luck. 

Step 1: Download Power BI Desktop

Or not so tough as there are plenty of great Data Visualization tools on the market, here’s their comparison, by the way, A Comparative Analysis of Data Visualization Tools: Google Data Studio, Power BI, and Tableau.  

Step 2: Install Power BI Desktop

To install your setup file and go to Next > ☑I accept the terms in the License Agreement > Choose the destination folder > ☑Create a desktop shortcut > Install > ☑Launch Microsoft Power BI Desktop > Finish.

Step 2: Install Power BI Desktop

Step 3: Import data to Power BI Dashboard

Without numbers, there is no data to visualize, so the third step of Power BI dashboard creation is to import data. To do so in your Power BI Desktop Dashboard press on Home > Get Data > Choose a data source > Connect. 

Step 4: Format data in Power BI Dashboard

After you’ve selected your data source, the Power BI dashboard starts processing it and organizes what it has found in the new Navigator window. In the example below, you can see how Power BI found two components displayed on the left side of the window – Document and Ranking of the best and worst states for retirement. 

Select the data that interest you to see a preview. Here you have a perfect chance to format your future Power BI data visualization by choosing Transform Data or press Load to visualize it as it is.

Step 5: Create Data Visualization in Power BI Dashboard

Here’s great news! After importing data to your Power BI dashboard it’s quite simple to create actual data visualization dashboard elements. 

All you have to do is look at your right-hand Fields panel and check or drag-and-drop the desired field, like in this case Abbreviation, Affordability, Overall rank, State or Weather, onto the Power BI dashboard.   

In case you want to create another Power BI dashboard that shows correlations between various values, just check the values you’re interested in visualizing in the Fields section we described below, and Power BI will automatically generate a data visualization. 

You can choose the visualization type by simply clicking on any Bar, Pie or Donut chart or any other Data Visualization methods and types under the Visualizations tab on the right side of the panel.  

Congratulations! You are done! Your Power BI Desktop Dashboard has been created! Keep adding other Power BI charts and graphs to your dashboard with additional visualization types and information until you are ready and the final Power BI dashboard looks something like this.

To help you perfect your dashboard masterpiece we created another article section down below which lists the most useful charts you should consider, you are welcome 🙂

Useful Power BI chart types

Now that you know how data visualization in Power BI dashboards is created, let’s look at great Power BI charts and elements you can use. 

Power BI Slicers

How to create Power BI Slicers

What we most love about data visualization is its ability to be interactive. That means that when you look at the colourful dashboard with the top paid football players, for example, you can click on a specific member and the dashboard will change stats on that exact member accordingly. 

This data visualization function allows dashboards to be extensive in covering a certain topic and contain multi-level information on different aspects you can review within a single report page. 

Here’s how you create a Power BI slicer: Visualizations > Slicer > choose a Field > drag-and-drop on your dashboard into Slicer placeholder. 

Power BI Map visualizations

And map visualizations in Power BI have two different versions – a shape map that focuses on the geographic areas and colour gradation and a bubble map that displays data comparison in a form of different sized bubbles.

To create a Power BI shape map, go to Visualizations > Filled Map > choose a Value > add to the Location bucket.

To create a Power BI bubble map, go to Visualizations > Map > choose a Value > add to the Location bucket.

Power BI Tables and Matrix

A Power BI table is just like any other dashboard table, which you can access by going to Visualizations > Table > Values > play around with Value fields until they are in the same order you’d like to see in the final table.

A matrix is another Power BI table, which according to Power BI itself, “is similar to a table, but it has different category headers on the columns and rows”

To access it go to Visualizations > Matrix. Here you can change column colours, shift row and column totals and much more.

Power BI Scatter chart, Waterfall chart, and Funnel charts

Scatter charts are mostly used to compare two different values between each other, like income to sales, for example. 

To create a Scatter chart, go to Visualizations > Scatter chart > select two fields you’d like to compare > drag-and-drop to the X Axis and Y Axis fields > add a field to the Details bucket to mark how you wish to filter your data. 

For instance, you might want to segment your data by year, month or product when comparing income to sales.

Now Waterfall charts are quite fun because wee-ell they look waterfalls. They are usually utilized to show changes in a single value, like sales, over a period of time. 

To create a Waterfall chart, go to Visualizations > Waterfall charts > choose a time-based Field like a month or year > drag to the Category panel > choose any value, like sales, you want to track over time > drag to the Y Axis

How to create Power BI Waterfall chart

Welcome Power BI Funnel charts! Funnel charts are exactly what they sound like – a great way to display sales funnels or user journeys. 

To create a Funnel chart, go to Visualizations > Funnel. 

Modify colours in Power BI charts 

When it comes to data visualization in Power BI, just like any other data visualization, colours play an important role in highlighting trends and differences, and sometimes you want to modify them. Here’s a quick guide on how to do it.

To change the colour of any Power BI chart or graph click Visualizations > click on the chart you’d like to change > click Paintbrush symbol > Data colours > select a Colour picker to choose any chart colour you’d like. 

You can also change the colour of value or measure, to do so go to Visualizations > click on the value you’d like to change > click on the Three vertical dots. 


Now you know how to create a data visualization dashboard in Power BI. Awesome, right? If you were thinking about choosing another data visualization platform, check out our fresh How to Choose Data Visualization Software? article that highlights all the points you should pay attention to and watch out for. 

If you are debating which data visualization tool to choose between Power BI, Google Data Studio and Tableau, here are 3 great comparative articles. Enjoy 🙂