How to make your dashboard more effective and actionable
A well-designed dashboard is an extremely powerful tool, which in the hands of an experienced manager allows you to draw the correct conclusions and make the right decisions. However, it should be emphasized that creating an effective dashboard requires experience and an aesthetic sense. It is necessary to carefully analyze business requirements, collect the necessary data and choose the optimal methods of its visualization. What should you remember while designing a dashboard?
The power of visual presentation
The role of a dashboard in an organization can be compared to that of a dashboard in a car. The driver, similarly to the management of the organization, should be focused on the road and on following the chosen route. However, in order to do so safely and reach the destination in time, he must rely on accurate and complete information provided to him by the control panel. A dashboard for an organization should be designed in a similar way. It must quickly provide reliable business information and thus support management decisions.
How can you obtain such a result? According to DS Stream’s (https://dsstream.com/) experience, the starting point for any analytical process is always the same – data gathering and cleaning. Thus, before starting work on the dashboard, make sure that the data you’re going to use to tell your story is 100% correct and has been properly prepared for further steps.
A dashboard must respond to business needs
When designing a dashboard for an organization each time, the process should start with a thorough analysis of demands reported by the business. Without establishing KPIs and the most important metrics, moving to the next stage will be pointless. What questions should be asked at this stage in order to achieve this goal?
1. Put yourself in the role of the recipient
After a thorough analysis of business requirements and moving on to the stage of dashboard design, it is worth to start by adding its key elements, i.e. indicators, which will be the most important elements for the future recipient and each time will constitute a starting point. However, in order to understand what questions may appear in his mind, once you have familiarized yourself with the basic KPIs, you should look at the business from his perspective. This will make it much easier for you to decide on the next elements of the dashboard and optimal ways of visualization
2. Less really is more
Just one glance should be enough for the dashboard user to get an idea of the current situation of the company or a separate part of it, in order to enable them to take appropriate business steps. With this in mind, ensure transparency and simplicity. An excessively large number of visualizations, huge amounts of data crowded in a small area or incorrectly selected graphs are just a few examples of errors that introduce unnecessary chaos and mess of information.
3. Provide a context
Without proper context, the interpretation of the data presented on the dashboard is extremely difficult and may lead to making wrong decisions. By adding additional information to the key indicators, such as comparing the result to the same period last year, you provide the end user with a perspective that will allow them to accurately assess the result and take appropriate corrective measures if necessary. It has to be admitted that the information about the sales volume from the last month will not tell you too much if you are not aware that it is 80% lower compared to the previous month.
4. Select the optimal methods of data visualization
Once you know what kind of data you want to present and you have prepared a list of questions that the business may come back to you with, think about the most effective methods of data visualization. Simple indicators, complemented by valuable context, line charts, trends or pie charts, which in many situations effectively present the contribution of specific categories, will be perfect. To present complex data, consider less popular pivot tables as well.
5. Be careful with colors
You already know that a dashboard should be simple and clear, but you have to remember that this also applies to the issue of colors. They play an extremely important role and very often provide additional information. So remember to be careful with their excess and saturation level. Also, refrain from using colors that can lead to misinterpretation of data.
6. Focus on interactivity
To provide as much information as possible on the dashboard and make it more engaging at the same time, you should make it a little more interactive. Thanks to this, the final recipient will be able to filter the data selected by you in various ways and analyze them on their own.
By following the guidelines above, you will be able to create a transparent and extremely effective dashboard, which on the one hand will meet the requirements of the business and on the other hand will offer a wide range of possibilities to adapt it to individual needs.