Data visualization standards for SF.gov
Guide for public dashboards and data visualization for the City and County of San Francisco.
This guide was created collaboratively in 2021 by DataSF, Digital Services, Controller’s Office, and several expert volunteers.
We aim to ensure data visualizations created for the public are:
- Thoughtfully designed
- Accessible and enjoyable
For dashboards or data visuals going on a public website, implementing these guidelines should be considered a minimum criteria for your dashboard or product.
This guide is for data analysts experienced in data visualization who plan to publish dashboards or data visuals on a public website. While this guidance is applicable for any website, following this guidance is required for any visuals going on the SF.gov platform.
Nonetheless, many of the accessibility best practices are relevant and can be applied to internal reports as well.
If you are using Power BI, use our template PBIX file and associated video tutorial and step-by-step guide . All the guidance below is already applied to our template, so it’s easy to just plug in your data and go!
Screenshot from our Power BI template file, highlighting the contents: there are several layout options, built-in spacers to help move and organize visuals, all formatting standards are built in, alt text and tab order are correct, and a date table and other advanced measures are also included.
Power BI-specific tips are highlighted throughout this document.
Analysts can use any visualization software approved by their Department, and all of this same guidance applies.
This guide is only possible because of countless amazing articles, blog posts, and presentations on dashboarding, accessibility, and design. Thank you to the engineers, designers, accessibility experts, and other leaders that contributed to this work simply by publishing excellent resources elsewhere. Check out our resources section to find a list of resources we used.
Special thanks to several expert designers and engineers who worked on this guide and the corresponding Power BI template. Thank you to: