Build your own website - For Business Users
A no code solution to create a content management website to post your analytical content
So far in Series1 we covered no code solutions to create and automate analytical content. In Series2 we covered how to achieve the same objective with additional complexity such as combining data from multiple sources.
However publishing visualizations that tell our data story is only half the job done. Even the most advanced visualization platforms have serious limitations such as:
Rarely does a good visualization convey the message to our reader's completely. For example, we may have to complement our visualization with text, videos, images to support our findings.
Creating content is an ongoing process. We may need to post a new story every day or even post a few stories each day.
Reader's should be able access the relevant content in an easy to navigate manner. For example, advanced search options is a common requirement today.
While visualization tools such as Tableau coupled with their cloud hosting options offer several advanced features, they are still far away from serving as fully functional content management websites. As a result, content writers have to work with a team of web developers to publish their content on an ongoing basis. Having such dependencies can create bottlenecks in timely publication of content. Additionally, good visualization tools have fairly high licensing costs.
In this blog, we will cover how to create a fully functional content website without writing any code and at minimal to no cost.
For the purpose of our demo, we will use WordPress to create our website.
Note: There are several resources on the web on how to create websites on WordPress. In this blog we will only introduce the reader with the process of publishing analytical content using WordPress.
Let us create a website - Viz Gallery which demonstrates with few posts how we can easily create and manage our analytical content without writing any code in three easy steps.
Step 1 - Create the Website layout in WordPress:
Click here to login to WordPress. Once logged in, click on Create Site button and WordPress will guide you on the next steps. If you already have other sites/blogs, in the MySite page view, click on the create new site link, to create a new site.
Upon giving our site a name, a page to select a design theme will come up. Choose the theme that fits you best. We have used the Vesta theme.
Upon selecting the font and theme, WordPress offers various plan options. We may start with free tier and upgrade later if required. The Home page will come up with the editor mode as shown below.
After preliminary updates, Click on the Complete site option in the top right, to launch the site. Our site is now created and ready to edit.
Step 2 - Create your data story/blog:
We have created two dashboards in Tableau Public and included the visualizations in our blogs.
Note: WordPress.com allows direct embed codes for contents from only select sites. Click Here to know more on embeds. We faced issues in embedding code from most sites including Power BI cloud and Tableau without using plugins. The easiest approach is to download images from the site and upload on WordPress.
Let us create first page for which we will create a story using a tableau visualization
We may choose to select a theme or create a blank theme. We are choosing a blank theme.
We are using a sample Tableau visualization image downloaded from Tableau public. Upload the image and add supporting content as necessary and click on Publish in top right corner when the page is ready.
Next we will create one more sample page similar to the one above. Here we used a pattern from sample patterns and replaced it with our content as shown below.
Now under My Site > Pages we can see all the pages we have created. If the page is not published, we can see it under Drafts. Next, proceed to step 3 to see how we can link our pages to our home page
Step 3 - Link your data story/blog to the site home:
In Step 1 we used an existing WordPress theme. Now let us update the home page as per our requirements. To keep things simple, we are replacing the images from the theme to images that give an overview of our story as shown below.
Next let us link each story on home page to its content page. First copy the URL slug for the page from its page settings as shown below.
Now update the copied URL slug in the href part of the HTML as shown below. Repeat the same with the other blogs. Do not forget to Publish the pages when they are ready.
Adding new stories to the website is as simple as Ctrl-C /Ctrl-v to copy the blocks and updating the new blocks with new content. Both creating stories and maintaining the site can be done by business users without any external help.
We can further enrich our stories with YouTube videos, embeds from allowed sites such as twitter etc. and visually editing the layouts to suit our needs.
Creating our website was as simple as just a few click.
So far, we have created analytical stories, automated data update and created a website to publish the stories without writing any code and at no cost. However the no code approach we followed has a few trade-offs such as:
Most online visualization tools make our content public if we go with their free version like in case of Tableau Public. In order to make our content and data private to limited audience, we have to purchase product license for such tools. In subsequent blogs we will come up with alternate options.
While blogging/content management sites such as WordPress make it easy to build and maintain websites especially for non-technical users, in order to enable some advanced features there may be a steep learning curve. For example, we could not directly embed content from other sites in our WordPress site.
At the same time the ease of use offered by such tools creates excellent value both in terms of time saved in publishing content and the cost involved in maintaining the infrastructure. Depending on our business needs we can also opt for mixed strategy in which a part of our analytics team relies on these no code solutions to create our analytical content, while the more complex use cases are handled by a team of technologists or semi-technical users.
We will soon come up with a blog on how we can overcome challenges posed by the no-code solutions for the more complex scenarios using modern web development technologies and frameworks.