Dashboards are essential tools for analyzing an organization’s KPIs and helping it make informed strategic decisions on a daily basis.
However, creating dashboards is not something you can improvise: you need to design and use them correctly to exploit their full potential. Here is everything you need to know to create truly effective dashboards.
Don’t neglect the deployment of your data visualization tool
Before thinking about designing dashboards, you need to use data visualization software worthy of its name. But deploying such a tool is a large-scale project, which requires rigorous preparation and methodology. Here are the main steps to follow for a successful deployment.
Define your project
To deploy your data visualization solution effectively, you need to know exactly where you are going. So take stock of your objectives, the profile of the software users, the indicators you intend to monitor, but also the volume of data to be managed. This will make it easier for you to anticipate difficulties.
Consider internal needs
To create high-performance dashboards it is essential that your dashboard tool responds precisely to the users’ needs. Do not hesitate to carry out an internal audit to identify the requirements and expectations of each user. This survey should focus on different points such as functionality, ergonomics or customization possibilities.
Support your teams
Deploying a data visualization solution implies important changes in the organization and working methods of the company. This is why it is essential to communicate internally and to support employees with the help of training, workshops and technical documents.
Organize your data
To successfully implement a data visualization tool, you will also have to put your data in order. The data must be classified and prioritized as a function of its interest and sensitivity. Furthermore, it is important to locate the data you will need to build your performance indicators.
In order to respond to users’ requests, the best solution is to involve them directly in the deployment processes. By collecting feedback and analyzing the real use of the tool as soon as possible, you will be able to adjust it to your needs.
Consider legal constraints
There are many standards that govern the use of personal data by businesses. This legal environment must absolutely be taken into account when deploying your solution, as well as the security constraints specific to your company.
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Create relevant dashboards
Now that your data visualization tool has been deployed properly, all you have to do is create your dashboards… As long as you don’t design them any differently!
Choose the right performance indicators
Creating a dashboard is meaningless if you don’t have a clear idea of the key performance indicators you want to track. Indeed, a dashboard with bad KPIs can cause serious problems later on.
Before anything else, you must ask yourself what the objective of your dashboard is and what type of data you want to analyze. For example, is it to monitor financial indicators? Sales performance? Human resources?
Always keep it simple
To be understandable, a dashboard must be simple and synthetic. There is no need to add dozens of more or less useful indicators: focus on the essentials in order to obtain directly the information you really need. A well-constructed dashboard must show your main KPIs in a perfectly readable way.
In addition, each dashboard must have a well-defined role so as not to become a real catch-all. For example, some dashboards are intended to manage the daily activity of the company, others to quickly detect problems or anomalies, etc.
Users have specific needs and is not necessarily interested in the same information as the people around them. To help read the dashboard, it is therefore essential to classify the data and to integrate a filter system. Employees can then restrict their analyses to the data that they are interested in, in order to obtain the desired statistics.
Share your dashboards
A dashboard is an intuitive interface that makes data accessible to as many people as possible. This is why dashboards should be shared with as many people as possible within the company. In this way, everyone will be able to access all the data they are interested in at a glance.
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Choose appropriate graphical representations
Graphics are one of the most essential elements of a dashboard, as they allow you to represent data in a fun and understandable way. However, the choice of the appropriate visualization depends on the type of data used.
The pie chart
This graph (also called circle chart) is widely used to display percentages. For example, the percentage of new customers in the company, the distribution of turnover by product, etc. In general, the pie chart is very useful for showing a trend.
The curve chart
Curves have the advantage of making statistics easier to read, especially when they are distributed over time. Indeed, this type of chart can be used to follow the progress on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. It can typically be used to represent the evolution of the company’s sales over one year.
The histogram is an ideal chart to compare different products or departments within the company according to specific criteria. Color shades are used to provide a very clear view of the values or results obtained by each entity being compared.
The radar chart
Shaped like a flower, the radar chart can represent several KPIs at the same time, while comparing different products or services from the company. This advanced representation is ideal to have an overview of the company’s performance and to quickly check several indicators.
The gauge chart
The gauge is an ideal format to track the progress of a project or monitor the health of a critical KPI. This representation is usually shaped as a circle with colors ranging from green to red. When the needle is in the green area, everything is fine. As it gets closer to the red area, it means that the situation is concerning.
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Make your dashboards attractive
Having well-designed dashboards with relevant information and appropriate graphical representations is unfortunately not enough to make them captivating. During a meeting or a presentation, for example, it is essential to keep your audience on the edge of their seats in order to effectively convey the information.
Otherwise, it will be difficult to get your collaborators on board. Moreover, poor information transmission can hinder the decision-making process within the company. This is why making your dashboards sexy, with an aesthetic design and an attractive layout, is essential. Here are some tips on how to do this.
Simplify and streamline the interface
Users of your dashboard should be able to navigate through an intuitive and ergonomic interface. Again, simplicity is the key: avoid overloading dashboards with modules and information at all costs.
Play with colors
If you expect your audience to be bored, the best option is to have a black and white dashboard. This is why you should not hesitate to add color to your dashboard. However, make sure you use a limited number of colors, so that visuals do not get cluttered.
In addition, the different shades should complement each other and not be too contrasting. You can also vary the fonts to break the monotony: however, limit your choices to two or three typographies.
Respect the visual hierarchy
To be perfectly readable, your dashboard must respect the basic principles of visual hierarchy, with a main title and subtitles to structure the document. In addition, the most important graphics should be emphasized over secondary information.
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You now have all the keys to build dashboards that will truly improve your company’s performance. Ergonomic and aesthetic, featuring relevant indicators and adapted graphics, your dashboards will become a formidable weapon for decision-making.
Do you want to create dashboards but are not sure where to start? Request your DigDash Enterprise demo now! Our dynamic dashboard solution adapts to all business needs and all industries to help you make informed choices on a daily basis.
12 July 2021