Data-driven decision making is essential for any business in the modern world. Dashboards are powerful tools that can help you visualize and analyze your data in real time. But not all dashboards are created equal. How can you design dashboards that deliver clear, actionable insights to your users? Here are some tips based on our experience and some lessons learned along the way.
Data Quality: RULE NUMBER ONE!
The foundation of any dashboard is the data behind it. You need to ensure that your data is standardized, clean and reliable. Users have to trust that the data feeding any visualization is 100% accurate and quality assured on a regular basis. As the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”!
No Stone Unturned (Client Discovery)
Before you start building any dashboard, you need to understand who your target audience is and what their needs are. What are the insights you are aiming to deliver to the users? What does the business want to gain from utilizing the visualization? Are there any specific KPIs they want to track? Discovery sessions are super important to get the answers to these questions and to align your dashboard with the client’s goals and expectations.
KISS or (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
A good dashboard should be easy to use and understand. Put yourself in the shoes of the users. Is it intuitive how to navigate the page? Will everyone know what these abbreviations really mean? Avoid cluttering your dashboard with too many elements or colors that can distract or confuse the users. Include video documentation, a glossary, FAQ etc. to help resolve any user queries from the start.
I can see a Rainbow
The visual appearance of your dashboard matters a lot. You want to use colors, fonts, icons and charts that are consistent, appealing and appropriate for your data and audience. Use colors sparingly and strategically to highlight important information or trends. Avoid using too many different colors that can make your dashboard look like a six year olds unicorn party. Choose fonts that are readable and professional. Use icons that are relevant and recognizable. Choose charts that suit your data type and message.
Less is More
Don’t try to cram too much data into one dashboard. A user shouldn’t have to scroll up and down the page to find the section they are interested in. The users could get lost in all the numbers and miss the key points. Focus on the most important and relevant metrics and indicators for your audience and purpose. You can always create multiple dashboards for different topics or levels of detail if needed.
Data Jackanory (Storytelling)
The ultimate goal of any dashboard is to tell a story with data and enable users to take action from the insights they derive. Data storytelling and actionable insights are key concepts that you should keep in mind when designing your dashboard. Your dashboard should have a clear structure, flow and narrative that guides the users through the data and helps them answer their questions and make decisions. You should also provide context, explanations and recommendations for your data where possible. For example, you can use annotations, captions, tooltips, filters, drill-downs etc. to add more information and interactivity to your dashboard.
Feedback, Good, Bad and Ugly
One of the best ways to improve your dashboard is to get feedback from your users. Make it easy for users to provide any feedback and comments good or bad to improve things or add new features. You can use surveys, polls, ratings, comments etc. to collect user feedback and measure user satisfaction. You should also monitor how your users interact with your dashboard using analytics tools. This can help you identify any issues or opportunities for improvement.
We hope these tips will be valuable to and help you create effective dashboards for data-driven decision making. Keeping the above tips in mind as you design and build ensures you will stay on track to deliver meaningful data insights and intuitive visualization. Happy dashboarding!