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Dashboard Design – Best Practices to Follow

Apr 09, 2020 4 min read

Dashboards are a great way to display important information necessary to achieve a certain objective. They present data in an easy-to-scan format so that the most useful data is understandable at a glance. 

What Is The Purpose of Dashboards?

Dashboards present the most relevant information for readers at the moment they are looking at it, as well as a simple way to navigate directly to different sections of the application.

Their purpose is to display the desired information. Users should be able to understand the dashboard’s purpose in a matter of seconds. They should easily understand what the designer wants to tell using the dashboard that presents only meaningful information.

Another purpose of dashboards is to present information, including the content, organization, and layout, in a consistent format. They shouldn’t be complex but simple.

You may want to know about Whatagraph which offers a reporting tool that helps you to create visual live reports as an alternative to dashboards for your team. It presents important information in a small space, just like most dashboards do.

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Best Practices for Dashboard Design

The goal of dashboard/report designers is to create a dashboard or report that will be easily understood and well received by the user.

Here are some crucial points to consider when designing it for your audience.

1.Determine the Purpose

Dashboards are divided into several categories based on their purpose, the most general categories being operational and analytical.

The main goal of operational dashboards is to communicate relevant information quickly and clearly to users who need to make an immediate action. They are time-sensitive and help users to be proactive and efficient.

Analytical dashboards, on the other hand, are less time-sensitive and focus on helping readers to analyze trends, make the best sense of the data, and drive decision making.

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2.Hierarchy

Define what the most important information for your audience is, and use the position and size of content widgets to present it properly. Define information levels so that the reader knows what’s most relevant.

Present the information that’s more important on the top left, and the less important on the bottom right. You can also divide the data into categories and present them in various views.

3.Simple Form

When it comes to a good dashboard design, one of the main goals is to present the relevant information in a simple and easy-to-understand form.

So, don’t present too much information or use more columns to do that. Get rid of any redundant information. The fewer columns and less complex information, the better.

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4.Consistency

Data consistency is possible when using a clear framework. Using similar visualizations and layouts between groups can make your data easier to understand. Following consistent date formatting and naming conventions can make things easier for the user.

5.Proximity

To help readers understand the information more easily and quickly, you should present related information closer to each other instead of scattering it across the entire dashboard.

6.Alignment

Dashboard elements should be aligned with each other for a balanced look which enables a good user experience. Grids allow you to obtain effective consistency and alignment easily and make a skeleton for your dashboard design.

7.Whitespace

Whitespace plays an important role in your dashboard design. It allows the reader to take a break from seeing all the information and understand it more easily. Using whitespace prevents cluttered view and helps you to group related information visually.

8.Color

Choosing the right colors and using maximum contrast can help you to guide the reader through the information in a simple and easy-to-understand way. It can make the content easier to read. So, avoid using less contrast and inefficient gradients.

9.Fonts

Unless there’s no reason to use a specific font, use the standard ones for your dashboard content. They are easier to scan, read, and understand. Don’t use ALL caps text since it makes the reading more difficult.

So, choose a standard font with a suitable size to present the information.

10.Number Formats

Use round numbers instead of long numbers whenever possible to prevent confusing the reader. You may also want to reduce any irrelevant information.

11.Labels

Rotated labels are generally more difficult to read and absorb for the human mind. Therefore, use labels that communicate the information quickly and effectively. Standard abbreviations should be used whenever possible.

12.Personalization Instead of Customization

Readers expect to find relevant information on their dashboard, and the two techniques that allow this to happen are personalization and customization.

The system should be able to identify users and present them with the experience and content that suits their needs. It should allow them to make changes or customize the experience according to their needs by configuring the content, layout, or system functionality.

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13.Data Tables or Lists

Integrating data tables is useful when you have a lot of information for different items to present. They are the best way to present information such as a list of clients with their ID, last activity, contacts, status, etc.

Data tables provide easy scalability, good use of space, and easier development. They are easy to work with, as most people have experience in working with Microsoft Excel. Users can easily find something and make the necessary change.

To Sum Up

Dashboards are supposed to deliver complex and relevant information in a simple way that would save time and effort. They should be structured in a way that will maintain a visual hierarchy. Whether or not they will serve this purpose depends on the dashboard design which should be goal-centric and user-centered.

Even though each dashboard has a unique goal, limitations, and requirements, following the dashboard design best practices will help you to create excellent designs.

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