Design 7th - Sep - 2018

Core values to Design Dashboards

by DAVID RAJ



How easy is it to design a dashboard? Very far from easy is the take. Dashboards are a way to easily determine the foremost trends of business data. Designing an effective dashboard is a culmination of comprehensive data which is visually represented in a simplistic approach which in turn paves way to track useful information and make decisions.

Every business has complex data sets, dashboards are very significant to quickly analyse those data sets. An effective dashboard design should be able to do this easily but to make one that communicates all the key data is not that simple.

Information cannot be placed just anywhere on the dashboard, nor can sections of the display be sized simply to fit the available space. Items that relate to one another should usually be positioned close to one another.

— Stephen Few, author of Information Dashboard Design

Here are some effective points to follow to design a dashboard,

Research well

Just as any other design, a detailed research of the project is the first step to an effective dashboard, only when there is clear understanding about the data sets the design will fit the user requirement. Even if it takes longer time to understand the data, this should never be a miss. Researching well will make you think in broader way to communicate only what’s required. Since data is supposed to only communicate meaningful information, through research one will be able to effectively distinguish between the priorities of content that needs to be displayed.

Less is more

We designers often try to communicate more than what’s required and make it look cool, or just listen to clients who wants everything to be in a dashboard, how do you deal with this?, The answer is simple, your research helps you out here to decide to have less and only the effective information on the dashboard. Minimal design makes the user to glance through the data quick and make decisions, here we can also follow the hierarchy pyramid of data priorities which lets you not to over populate the dashboard. The hierarchy is almost similar to journalist reporting standards where most vital data layout stays at the top and lesser priority data which supports the top most data placed below.

Suitable visualisation

There are lots of ways to represent a data visually, it can be a pie chart, bar chart, scatter plot, area graph and many more but to choose the suitable visual mean which gives suitable information of complex data is the key, keeping in mind that it should also look attractive with legible color codes. Narrowing to a visual medium of data it should be effective in communicating the data in less than 10 seconds which helps in making decisions quicker. The designer should also consider that these graphs should be easily customizable.

Final Thoughts,

The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures.

―Ben Shneiderman

As the quote above points out, it’s the content that matters the most and the most relatable visual medium a designer chooses makes life easier to the user. An effective dashboard design should have these core values that enhances the data and also reduce complexity in providing what matters.

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