8 Quick Tips for Creating Dashboards

Dashboards can be an endless subject and there are so many different types, each with its own best practices.  But let’s take a look at some tips that can be applicable for any dashboard application.

1.Don’t overwhelm the user with data.

I get it, you love gauges and charts and widgets.  You understand your dashboard more than anyone because you built it.  That’s the problem.  A dashboard should display all the information available and force the viewer to decide whats important.  That’s just work.  You are the author of the dashboard you tell the story you want to tell by emphasising what is important and leaving the rest out.

2. Use the right visualizations

Don’t overestimate the viewers’ knowledge of data visualization.  Some charts are better for certain types of data and some charts like 3D pie charts just should be used at all.  If you want to use a dial or a gauge, make sure the data is the right fit.

3. Unclutter your dashboard

Many first time dashboard creators are enamoured with all the amazing things and backgrounds and effects you can add to your creation.  Stop.  Dashboards don’t need artistic or cluttered backgrounds and sounds and special effects quickly get old.  The best interface is something that is clean and only has the needed visualizations and information.

4. Give context to the data

Dashboards that are too focused and detailed will lack the broader context.  And dashboards that are too broad will lack the specifics to see what’s driving the data.  The best compromise is to start broad and allow the user to drill down to subsequently more detailed views.

5. Consistent color scheme

You don’t have to be Picasso in his blue period to have a good looking dashboard.  While too many contrasting colors can give off a Playskool vibe, sticking to one color tone will also reduce clarity.  It’s best to define a simple color pallet and stick to it.  If you have troubling picking a palette there is no shortage of online resources to help you.

7. Chill with the real-time data

I know that real-time data can make your dashboard feel alive and cutting edge, but most dashboards just don’t need that level of attention.  Real-time data is often messy and a distraction if you are trying to pull insights of it. Unless you have a need for real time, like stocks, or other time sensitive information, stick the insights instead of the distraction.

8. Test, then fix

The best way to figure out if your dashboard is effective is to get it into the wild and get feedback.  Don’t worry about hurt feelings.  You are trying to get better and because dashboards interface with real humans, then you need to see how people react to your creation.  Ask your audience if the information was clear.  Ask them what they would like to see.  Then fix it, and repeat the process until your amazing dashboard gets you promoted.