Five whales of creating an effective dashboard

The first acquaintance with any system occurs through the toolbar . Therefore, it is very difficult to overestimate the importance of its design . After all, from the picture he sees, the user draws several conclusions at once:

– How informative is the presentation ?

how quickly he can achieve the desired goals ;

– Is it possible for him to deal with all the data.

The dashboard essentially should give a visual overview of the entire product , providing an announcement of all its possible features .

With over 13 years of experience in UX/UI design , KLONA is ready to share her secrets and rules for creating the perfect dashboard.

Dashboard type definition

The first step , despite the fact that design and functionality are somewhat opposite concepts, is to study the functions of the device and the purposes of direct use of the dashboard.

Depending on the tasks, there are three types :

Analytical Dashboards

They help answer the questions:Why did this happen?” and ” What to expect in different cases?”. They are characterized by large amounts of data and the ability to identify trends . Consist of complex tables, charts, graphs.

They are great for tracking changes in a certain value over a long period , as well as for predicting the situation in the future.

Solution for managers and analytical departments .

Objective: Allows you to see current problems , identify trends and understand the challenges for improving key processes.

Dashboard example
Dashboard example

Operational dashboards

Provides a real-time picture of the process status . Allow to monitor current data . Usually include simple graphics and labels.

Option for managers, equipment management, games and online programs.

Purpose: Evaluation of daily performance .

Strategic dashboards

Monitor key performance indicators and influence long-term decision making . Such dashboards often have time frames – monthly, quarterly, annual performance scales.

Choice for leaders .

Purpose: monitoring key performance indicators , tracking performance for a specified period , performance analysis.

Strategy Dashboard Example
Strategy Dashboard Example

Audience research

The previous step will also help you identify users. But this is in a global sense.

More specifically , before developing a dashboard design , you need to find out all the information about the audience – who will directly work with all indicators.

And in this case, a superficial analysis is indispensable. You need to study the following aspects well:

who will work with the panel?

what information will be used for different purposes and tasks;

what is the experience of interacting with metrics and data;

what are the priorities in visual and color.

Studying the target audience

The main thing is to understand the purpose of the user’s search and study his path to it . This is the main guideline in the entire UX / UI design scheme of the dashboard design.

Analysis of goals and expectations

Effective dashboards are a comprehensive collection of data to make an informed decision . Therefore, to develop a dashboard design, you need to understand what decisions should ultimately be made and what data needs to be in the metric.

A survey of the audience that will work with the installation will show the existing experience and help to implement it into new dashboard metrics and graphs. Only in this way it is possible to determine the range of the necessary data and set their dynamism.

Selecting the type of data display

Dashboard design elements

Cumbersome and inconvenient spreadsheets that store a bunch of information will not be able to fit on the dashboard screen and will not provide the proper ease of perception and work. The ideal alternative in this case would be charts and graphs , the use of which also has its own characteristics :

– to focus on the most important indicator , it is better to use a chart with a single value ;

– to display the dynamics of its change , a chart with an indicator for one value is suitable;

– to compare the actual data with the aim of a bullet chart;

– demonstrate several sets of data in a tabular format , while the number of rows should not exceed 10 ;

continuous data is best monitored with a line chart ;

a bar chart will show changes over time for data from one category ; – a pie chart most quickly and clearly conveys a picture of comparing sectors . It will be more informative to detail the segment data when hovering over or activating a specific fragment;

A scatter plot looks more original for comparing variables , but understanding the data will take more time and require more effort .

When choosing any type of metric, you should start from the main requirements for the design of the dashboard – it should be informative, understandable and useful to the user.

Important tips for developing a useful dashboard can be viewed in the video:

Dashboard organization

The final stage in the development of dashboard design is the creation of a project (outline, prototype) based on specific goals and selected graphic elements.

To begin with, it is worth creating the panel structure itself, using a grid into which grouped metrics will be entered.

There are special rules for designing a dashboard:

important parameters should be located in the upper left corner (according to the reading rule);

related indicators are necessarily grouped together , preventing the user from long searches for the desired next indicator;

to separate groups , you need to use empty space , which will also give the design of the board lightness and convenience;

for a better understanding and perception of data, individual elements of the chart design can be reused , achieving integrity and uniformity of presentation.

The devil is in the details – the main rules for developing dashboard design

Creating a dashboard is a task to make the indicators as clear as possible , which will ensure the effectiveness of achieving goals. But for this you need to pay maximum attention to all aspects and details , harmoniously combining ease of perception and style of presentation.

Convenient as soon as possible

The dashboard will be more understandable and convenient for working with data when the following rules are followed:

compared elements should be visually grouped ;

related information is located in close proximity ;

visual balance is achieved by aligning the dashboard elements , serving as an information grid;

to separate different aspects of monitoring will allow additional empty space between sections, groups;

– you can quickly read the data without overloading the visual using well-known abbreviations or informative labels .

Easy to make easy, hard to make easy

The most understandable panel should provide ease of presentation of the most complex indicators. In other words, you need to present complex concepts in a simple and understandable way:

limit the amount of information without overloading perception;

use fewer columns that are difficult to read, choosing bright and clear accent charts and graphs as an alternative ;

– leave only the necessary indicators , coordinating their number with users;

– display numbers in a convenient format , rounding them as much as possible and not confusing the user with a long tail that does not carry important information.

Priorities first

Easily present complex data in a dashboard

You can’t mix all the data together, otherwise the secondary will confuse and prevent you from reaching the desired goal.

Define the main indicators and create a kind of hierarchy for presenting information on the panel:

– the most important data is placed in the first place;

on the second there are tendencies revealing the previous indicators;

further – information that helps to understand the problem.

Important elements should also be visually highlighted by using font size, color, animation, and so on.

Size and shape matter

We are talking about such a design element as fonts and labels . Text and data labels should be legible and fit harmoniously into the chart pattern.

Choose the best font , using font weight, headings to highlight . You can take several styles, applying them to different groups.

Place the legend of a graphic object correctly: on a large screen – below the chart, on a miniature device – above the chart. The main criterion is that the legend should be in view when working with data.

Labels are also used to make graphs and charts easier to read. At the same time, their writing should be only horizontal – as convenient as possible for the user.

In the case of using complex metrics , it is better to supplement them with formulas or descriptions, which will facilitate interpretation and make perception more comfortable.

The palette of perception

Color is the area where our mind comes into contact with the Universe. Paul Klee

The use of color in the design of the dashboard

With the help of color, you can give your dashboard design character , making it unique and effective. To do this, you should carefully consider and choose a color scheme using no more than six shades . This palette should be used for all metrics on the dashboard , which will help you quickly navigate through the indicators.

To create contrast or highlight the main elements, color accents are used, leaving neutral tones for secondary data.

To convey the dynamics of continuous data, you can use one color by playing with its saturation.

IMPORTANT! Do not disregard the existing persistent associations , the twisting of which can lead the user astray ( red warns of a problem , green shows a positive result, etc.).

Parting words on the way to the ideal panel

Having created an effective information panel (even taking into account all the recommendations), you need to constantly monitor its usefulness for the target audience. Very often, the design may require changes. To be sure of the flawless operation of the program, you need to periodically conduct user surveys , analyze feedback , and test the functionality of the device. It is always worth striving for improvement and development, there is always room to grow .

And finally, if you doubt your own successful path to the perfect dashboard, then you can always count on the KLONA team, which has hundreds of completed projects for the development of UX / UI design dashboard.

Contact us and our specialists will display your complex indicators in a convenient and useful format.

We are not the best, we just do the BEST!