Incorporating Design and Data in a Dashboard
Bangalore: Ask any consultant/ developer who creates a dashboard; it is not easy to make a good one. Dan Bulos, the President of Symmetry Corporation lists the practices that would result in an optimum dashboard. It is most important to be noted that a dashboard must be a visual display of only the most vital data needed to achieve the organizational goals and it must be fit into a single page on the computer screen so that it can be monitored at a glance. Quite obviously, some dashboards are better than others. A well designed dashboard will:
1. Display the key performance indicators and state the context
2. Be graphically oriented
3. Provide access to further details that support a point
4. Highlight any exceptions to the norm
5. Not be cluttered
A user shouldn’t have to scroll down the page to see the whole dashboard. No part of the content must be hidden. It must display minimum grids and focus more on patterns and providing insights. What exactly are the Key Data/Metrics? These may be the high level performance indicators which are generally associated with bonuses and goals. There is a need to focus on data which will help in taking decisive actions. Viewing a dashboard should not involve a lot of learning or technical knowledge and the designer must keep in mind that the people accessing the data will include casual users, line management and executives. The dashboards are not tools for analysis but help in guiding the decision maker. The dashboard must also be capable of highlighting the problems as well as the opportunities. Outliers should be eye catching so that the user can instantly analyze the data that seems to be ‘different’.
There are many components to a dashboard such as maps, grids, gauges, charts, diagrams, scorecards, diagrams, decomp trees and tree maps.
When it comes to colour, bold colours can be used for highlighting and for the rest of the dashboard; you could make use of soft colours. Colour should be picked according to the usefulness. If a dashboard is not visually appealing, the viewers will use it reluctantly. On the flipside if a dashboard does not effectively convey the requisite data, an end user will be dismissive of it. So a dashboard needs to find the right balance between being pretty and practical.
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