A great dashboard is key to capturing, interpreting, and using data, but it doesn’t just happen. You have to create it.
A dashboard can quickly provide key insights, identify issues that need to be addressed, and facilitate focused problem solving. You need to build a great dashboard that is informative and actionable for you and your organization. That takes time, trial and error, and broad buy-in. Read on for tips to create a dashboard that drives success.
- Experiment and get feedback. Try different things, such as changing colors for emphasis. Get feedback from others who will be using this data. Does it meet their needs? Is it easy to navigate? What aren’t they getting from it that is necessary or useful?
- Don’t overdesign. Prioritize functionality over aesthetics. Stick with simple, straightforward charts and basic color schemes. Your dashboard should be easy to understand; it should tell a story.
- Consider the audience and personalize the dashboard accordingly. Create a dashboard that makes it easy for users to compare themselves (or their department, building, or market segment) to others. Help them see how all of the data relates to them and enables them to identify problems, opportunities, needs, etc.
- Take inspiration (and ideas) from dashboards across industries. Be open to ideas from many sources.
- Don’t try to put up too much information. A dashboard is supposed to deliver a few key messages, not all possible insights at once. Overloading your dashboard with too much information can make it confusing and, ultimately, unusable or ineffective. Consider the hierarchy of information for users. What are the one or two questions they need to answer first?
- Design your dashboard with mobile devices in mind. As the current pandemic has taught us, people need to be able to access information anywhere at any time. Make it easy for people to access the dashboard from remote locations and on various devices. Consider what privacy and security measures will be necessary to make this happen.
- Use big numbers. Large, key performance indicators serve as anchor points for users to navigate your dashboard. They provide context, springboard conversations, and help people focus on how to get from here to there.
- Don’t use the same old chart. Experiment with different chart types. Find one that tells the right story with your dashboard. Don’t assume a line chart is always the best choice.
Not everyone who needs data from the dashboard is likely to know how to use this tool. Provide training and make it as intuitive as possible. Make sure people understand the information they’re seeing, what it means, and how to use it. Encourage their feedback and suggestions over time.