Best Practices to create Effective Dashboards

Dashboard, the word Dashboard immediately brings us the image of gauges to show speed, fuel level and other controls of the vehicle’s operation showing the health of the vehicle. Similarly Dashboard of the BI Tools help to gauge how well an organization is performing and provides the quick overview that decision makers need to make to improve the health of the business.

Now let us understand the Technical definition of Dashboard as defined by Stephen Few:

A Dashboard is a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.

To yield actionable insights, the management of the business needs to have an effective dashboard. Below listed are the few best practices when creating an effective dashboard irrespective of the technology used to create it.

  1. Purpose of creating a Dashboard: The main purpose of a Dashboard is to visualize the Key Performance Indicators and other strategic data of the organization at a glance so that better decisions can be taken. Key Performance Indicators are quantifiable measurements that reflect the critical success factors of an organization.
  2. Arranging the Important Data: The top left of the screen is the most prominent position in a dashboard and the most important Data should be placed in this position. As per Visual Science, the first place where our eyes go is to the top of a screen.
  3. Choosing the Right Chart or Graph for the Data: People often use the Chart or Graph which does not show the data properly or to create a fancy dashboard they show all the charts available. The following guidelines can be used when choosing a Chart or a Graph :
    a. Bar charts to compare numbers
    b. Maps to depict data geographically
    c. Line charts to depict trends over time
  4. Avoid Bright Colors: Color choices must be made thoughtfully, as some colors are hot and demand our attention while others are cooler and less visible. When any color appears as a contrast to the norm, our eyes pay attention and our brains attempt to assign meaning to that difference.
  5. Dashboard should be in a single screen: Too many Visuals in the dashboard cramps the clarity of the visuals and causes it to scroll to multiple pages which do not allow the user to compare or analyze the situation.

To sum up, an effective Dashboard yields actionable Insights to the key stakeholders of any organization.