A functional dashboard provides a streamlined visual representation of an organization’s most vital data.
A dashboard provides comprehensive knowledge of essential performance metrics at a glance by combining data from numerous sources. It also empowers users to readily drill down for a more in-depth review of the facts.
Before we go into more detail on some best practices to follow, we need to become familiar with dashboard designer terms first.
Some of the common terms, acronyms, and phrases related to dashboard creation include:
- Widget: An item on the dashboard in the form of visualizations, prompts, shapes, etc.
- Widget group: A group of widgets intended to filter or prompt interactions.
- Visualization: A chart or graph widget.
- Value: Measurements in a widget (size, length, etc.).
- Dataviz: An abbreviation for data visualization, which takes the form of a dashboard, charts, infographics, etc.
- Drill-down or drill-through: The action of clicking an actionable item to get more details about it.
- OLAP: An acronym for “online analytical processing.”
- KPIs: An acronym for “key performance indicators.”
- BI: Stands for “business intelligence,” which encompasses data gathering and analysis for better decision-making.
- BPM/CPM: An acronym for “business performance management/corporate performance management.”
These are some basic technical terms you may encounter while working with a dashboard.
Experience with creating dashboards is essential, and you may often need the help of experts or a knowledge base like the Cognos dashboard tutorial to know what to do.
Dashboard Creation Best Practices
Though the process itself may contain more details than we will include here, there are some baselines to follow when creating an effective dashboard. The goal is to create a dashboard that is:
- Highly visual
- Supplied with real-time data
- Accessible from a mobile device or desktop
- Easy to use or navigate
- Gathers data from multiple sources
- Clear about what it wants to communicate
To achieve that, here are some steps to follow.
1. Figure Out What You Want the Dashboard to Achieve
Know what you intend to see on the dashboard. Having a clear objective makes it easier to include the best metrics, KPIs, visualization, and other items.
Users need to be informed about what they show, how it may be received, and what impact it will have. It is possible to end up with a noisy board that achieves nothing when objectives are not planned from the start.
One of the questions to ask yourself is, “If I include this element, will it help me achieve my objective or solve the problem I am tackling?”
2. Know the Audience to Get the Context Right
Create the dashboard with the correct context in mind. To do that, you have to know who will use it and what they will use it for. That means stepping into the audience’s place to tailor-fit the dashboard according to their needs.
For instance, a CEO may want to see an overview of KPIs only, while the CFO may want options to drill down and drill through to gain more insight into the data. Knowing your audience allows you to make sure the context is right.
At the same time, you should not forget that the whole point of the dashboard is—to present data clearly for decision-making purposes.
3. Choose the Right Type of Dashboard
While you are assessing your audience, you should also have some idea of what kind of dashboard fits the objectives. Some of the primary types include:
- Tactical: This type of dashboard helps determine how the business can grow based on strengths, weaknesses, and trends in departments.
- Strategic: These focus on long-term business strategies and assess crucial data based on trends.
- Operational: These dashboards measure, monitor, and manage operations occurring in a short time frame.
- Specific: As the name implies, this type of dashboard focuses on specific metrics and elements.
- Analytical: These help users add raw data for insight-surfacing, covering longer periods with drill-down and drill-through features.
For best results, each dashboard should be designed to fit its function.
4. Use the Dashboard Storytelling Approach
Dashboard storytelling involves visually presenting data to show the entire premise of the data analysis methodology. This method enables users to easily grasp organizational plans and goals. Compelling storytelling will assist you in communicating your point as clearly as possible.
Constructing an engaging data narrative can help bridge the gap between technical users and those unfamiliar with analytics.
Designing your dashboard ahead of time is an excellent technique for compelling data storytelling. You can base your storytelling on the objectives and audience.
Other Best Practices to Remember
- Keep your design simple with easy-to-follow prompts and visuals.
- Integrate interactive elements like animation, widgets, and click-to-filter features.
- Select your colors carefully. You can select a theme or create color codes based on function.
- Choose your visual elements carefully to avoid clutter.
You can get the help of experts to deliver an excellent presentation. That way, you can get the most out of dashboard creation platforms.
To Sum Up
A dashboard generally offers information designed to swiftly express high-level ideas without overloading the user with unnecessary details. A viewer can quickly comprehend the significance of the data at a glance.
The right experts can create a dashboard that meets whatever goal you have in mind by using these simple tenets as the objectives and adhering to best practices.