If there’s one thing that indicates the success of your dashboard, it’s how often your clients use it and how happy it makes them. Below are our top 5 tips on how to design an effective and user-friendly dashboard.
Tip 1: Start with the user and goal of the dashboard
As easy as it sounds, clearly defining the audience of the dashboard and its purpose is an important step during the setup process. We find that these definitions are essential but often overlooked until they reappear later during the process. Questions relating to dashboards in general are “who’s going to use this dashboard?”, “how often will they use it?”, “how can they use this on a day-to-day basis” and many more. The answer to the question “what are they going to use the dashboard for?” can have a huge impact on the way you need to visualize the data. For example: if clients mainly use their dashboards for analytical purposes, showing information on a detailed level and incorporating a variety of filters might be the best way to go forward.
Tip 2: Layer your information
It can be a quick and easy fix to just show the user all the information and visuals at a single glance. However, an effective dashboard will provide the user with relevant data when they need it. Most dashboarding tools offer a variety of options to incorporate an application style user navigation, which in turn will help to hide and show information. There are many different ways to layer information:
- Use bookmarks to allow the user to show either a visual or table.
- Use a separate page for summarizing information (a KPI page for example) and offer an analytical option for each KPI on a separate page. Now users only have to navigate to the detailed page if the KPI requires attention.
- Use “Show details” buttons so certain information stays hidden until the user needs it.
- Build your own custom navigation with a dropdown menu in order to help group information topics.
Tip 3: Keep the design simple
We all like a dashboard that looks clean and is easy to use. Your design should have an inviting layout so users don’t feel discouraged when they open the dashboard. If you’d like to learn more on how to create your own easy-on-the-eyes dashboard you can check out this article!
Tip 4: Make it easy to interpret
When building a dashboard it’s easy to forget that some of your users might not have the same level of background information about the data shown that you have. Don’t skip out on making the information as clear and readable as possible. Here are a few pointers that can help:
- Incorporate an information pop-up or dedicated page with general information about the dashboard. You could also include contact details for the support staff in case of questions, remarks or bugs.
- Incorporate KPI definitions, either as a separate page or in the form of an information pop-up, so users know what a specific number means.
- Always show whenever the data was last updated or refreshed.
- Make sure to add clear references if data from multiple or different source systems are incorporated in the dashboard.
- Use comparative information to make it easier for users to interpret key figures. If a target or budget is not available, it helps to compare with a previous period instead.
- Group information related to the same subjects: clustering information on either different pages or by framing it helps users to quickly ingest the information.
Tip 5: Measure usage and adjust
Most dashboards evolve over time. If you really want to evaluate the effectiveness of your dashboard you need to zoom in on the user behavior. You can do this by gathering and analyzing data about the actual usage of the dashboard. This will provide you with a better understanding on how often your audience uses the dashboard, which pages they use most and even who your key users are. The second option for gathering insight is by asking your audience. By incorporating a questionnaire in your dashboard you will be able to ask your users about their user experience but also gather feedback. All this information will help you bring your dashboard to the next level. If you’d like to learn more about how to include a Microsoft Form questionnaire in your dashboard please check out this article!