What makes a dashboard great? Sounds simple but it is often difficult to get feedback when dashboard users are busy C-suite members or non-technical professionals.
We created many dashboards in Excel, Google Sheets, Google Data Studio, Power BI & other tools. Now, we are reaching out to dashboard users to see which dashboard features they enjoy the most and find crucial.
Here are nine pieces of advice to design a great dashboard:
Provide a Snapshot
A good dashboard provides a snapshot of what is going on and prioritizes information on the basis of what the users need to see. All the metrics you choose should combine to tell a holistic story to the user. What I enjoy about the dashboard I use frequently is they're useful 100% of the time. My dashboard offers some types of automation options. These options let my dashboard respond to changes in data automatically, or perform tasks based on predetermined events. My dashboard notifies me when key data points rise or fall beyond pre-set numbers. It alerts me to a problem as it’s happening, not just when I'm looking at the dashboard.
Alexander Shute, FaithGiant
Improve with Filtering and Sorting Features
A good dashboard is quickly and easily sortable. This helps sort through data much easier and allows you to customize this dashboard to fit your needs. If a dashboard is static, it only provides one view of the data. If the dashboard is sortable it allows you to cut and slice the data in a variety of ways to better fit the needs of your business. Make sure your dashboards feature filters and sortable functions to allow you to view the dashboard in a variety of different ways. This will lead to better use of the data and improved functionality of the dashboard.
Tyler Read, Personal Trainer Pioneer
When too much data and far too many numbers are staring at me I can't see the wood for the trees! A good dashboard with visuals is much simpler to understand when complex ideas are displayed with simplistic clarity and accuracy. This way I get a comprehensive snapshot of where we are, and where we need to focus our attention.
Stewart McGrenary, Freedom Mobiles
Simplify the Data
If your measurements require complicated legends and annotations to be understood, they may not be suitable for dashboards. I am a great believer in the importance of simplicity in making a dashboard usable and useful. Remember that it does not have to reveal every metric you use to measure your organization, only the ones that are directly relevant to your audience.
Mark Valderrama, Aquarium Store Depot
Incorporate Internal Links to Other Dashboards
A good dashboard software will allow you to easily link to other dashboards from within the platform. For example, we have a high-level marketing dashboard that shows us data across different channels and then allows us to click into more detailed reports directly from that dashboard - I love looking at this to get more insights on the overall trends we're seeing!
Sylvia Kang, Mira
Customize Based on Goals
Running a portfolio of digital brands, our philosophy for what feature is important in a dashboard depends on the goal of the dashboard user. From that point, we can determine what metrics are most important to display, and then that information informs the decision on what dashboard feature to use to display it. Dashboard features by themselves are handy, but in themselves don't help a business grow or change. They're more like a picture frame – what's on display matters more than the container, but the container helps to isolate and lead you to understand the content.
Simon Trask, Texas Outside
Enhance Device Integration and OS Optimization
Device and Operating System (OS) optimization is a crucial aspect of a dashboard so that every analytical detail associated with it is seamlessly accessible across various devices and platforms. Today's business leaders, managers, and employees work on multiple devices and software platforms, so the ability to access a shared dashboard that works optimally is crucial. A dependable and refined dashboard considers this aspect from the development stages, then follows up the design and analytics with consistent improvements and timely upgrades.
Jerry Ford, 4WD Life
Enable Customization and Reporting
One element of a great dashboard is the ability to customize and print reporting. Even if you are not necessarily printing you are able to save reports and compare historical data. This is such an important feature for business leaders to monitor and manage their business. We know if you can measure it you can manage and adjust as needed.
Amanda Russo, Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, LLC
Allow User Customization
Personally, I believe that one size does not fit all. Even users within the same department may wish to view different data or view their data in a different format. Consider how different the defensive and offensive coaches may want to perceive things. An efficient dashboard, in my opinion, allows users to modify the data they see on their dashboard as well as the layout. It allows them to engage with the data on the dashboard. Rather than creating several dashboards for multiple users, provide them with a single customizable dashboard. This is doable in Excel (with a reasonable amount of knowledge), but technologies like Qlikview and Tableau are becoming much more accessible, allowing for much of this customization to happen easily.
Lauren Cook-McKay, Divorce Answers