Dashboards are not a new thing in modern business. They have been in the field for quite a long time and have managed to bring in a sea change in our approach to managing data in business. With the inception of data-driven tools, dashboards have evolved a lot in terms of the accuracy of actionable insights and the efficacy of the visual data representation. The shift to a data-driven business model has exponentially increased the importance of dashboards.
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A cursory glance at the components and colour schemes available in the market is enough to grasp the vastness of the pool out of which you have to choose from. It is indeed overwhelming if you are not well acquainted with the different types of dashboards or you don’t know your requirements properly. But with the right design principles it is not that hard to figure it out.
Dashboard UX designing involves taking care of usability, functionality and user satisfaction. Dashboard design UX is geared to enhance the user experience of the dashboard and requires creative inputs from the developer and users from the different departments of an organization. Here are some of the top principles followed by leading UX designers that can make your dashboard accessible, swift and visually appealing:
Think from the user’s perspective
Designing the perfect dashboard is all about meeting the requirements of the users. You need to take care of the needs of all the users of the dashboard. What an HR team and sales team look for in a dashboard would be entirely different. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and think about what kind of data and visual representation you would like to see in the dashboard. First off, decide what type of dashboard you need to design. Dashboards come in different types: operational, analytical, strategic, tactical etc. Each has its own purpose to serve and understanding these differences are important. To make this easier, discuss with the targeted users and learn what they expect from the dashboard. Dashboards are basically about narrowing down and organizing the data. Being mindful of the user’s needs, defining the purpose and determining the goals of your dashboard are the first steps in your journey to design the perfect dashboard
Recognise Relevant KPIs
KPIs are at the heart of any dashboard. It is KPIs that help in turning your unorganized data into meaningful insights. This process is easy once you have determined the purpose, goal and the targeted users of the dashboard. You would also need to set the low and high points of each KPI so that you can easily recognize when an action is needed. Choose only the most relevant KPIs. Few relevant KPIs are always better than flooding your dashboard with a lot of unimportant KPIs. Otherwise, you not only clutter the UI but also betray the very purpose of having a dashboard.
The Five-Second Rule
Prioritizing data in the dashboard adds to the accessibility of the dashboard. The five-second rule followed by designers is the idea that all relevant data could be fetched within five seconds from opening the dashboard. The layout of the dashboard has to be chosen in a way that the most important data are placed in quickly recognised spots. Usually top priority data is placed on the top. Trends take up the middle part and less relevant data are placed in the bottom. Following this order makes your data well organized. Experienced designers use ‘inverted pyramid’ to prioritize the data while designing the layout of the dashboard. So, always have the inverted pyramid prepared before you create a dashboard.
Use Minimal Data Visualization
While designing a dashboard there is often a tendency to employ a lot of visualization tools that look stunning individually but end up cluttering the UI together. The overall visual appearance has to be kept in mind while choosing the visualization tools. Remember that less is always more. Too many tools makes the UI messy and spoils the visual appeal of the dashboard.
There are a lot of tools like line charts, maps, graphs and tables that come in various styles and designs. Every tool may not look good for every kind of data. For instance, line charts work best to represent data patterns. It helps users decipher the pattern easily. Bar charts are good for comparison. If a specific data is quite huge, then a table would be the right tool. Sparklines are the best tool for displaying trends. While it cannot be used for visualizing individual values, it is the best one to use when there are a lot of metrics. Though pie charts may look effective, it is often difficult to decipher at a first glance. So are bubble charts. It is very difficult to analyze and it is better to avoid it. So take extra caution while using these types of charts in the dashboard. Animations can be used for data or trends that need special attention but at the risk of going over the top and overdoing it. Stick to the idea of minimalism and your judgments will be good.
Another noticeable thing in best dashboard UX design is that they don’t use any tools for showcasing KPIs. They are mostly shown in text, making it distinct from the rest of the data. So, not using tools can also be a thoughtful decision. Sometimes our efforts to make the dashboard attractive can be counterproductive. So it is always recommended to be in the shoes of a lay user and use your common sense while picking the visualization tools.
Layouts for Multiple Device Optimization
Nowadays everybody opt for dashboards that are optimized for mobiles and tablets. We should take into account that the layout of dashboards in smaller devices like mobiles and tablets are different from desktops. What looks fine in the desktop version has a high chance to look cluttered in the mobile version. So there is a need to filter the data again and display only the very important data on the mobile version. Anyway, we may not need a detailed data analysis while using the dashboards on-the-go. Also make sure that the visualization tools are legible and easily scannable in the mobile-version.
Be Mindful of the Overall Design
Colour schemes, visualization tools, fonts, layout etc all constitute the overall design of the dashboard. Ideally, stick to a few colours and fonts. The interface should look simple and minimal. Divide the data into different categories using distinct labels, lines, boxes etc. Using the same font for headers, colour combinations with universal appeal and uncluttered layout can bring in a standardized appearance to the dashboard. Dashboard UX best practices include keeping the user’s attention without being sore to their eyes.
Few Final Words
Dashboard design UX is taking care of many things at once; all aimed at providing users the best utility and experience from the dashboard. Delivering the best dashboard UI UX design services is essentially the process of empathizing with the user types and delivering performance that meets their purposes. This process requires an exhaustive understanding of the potentials and possibilities of a superior dashboard.
Set goals for your dashboard and never hesitate to keep on evolving. Dashboard templates and tools get updated very frequently. Timely incorporation of the latest components to your dashboard is what keeps your dashboard stay relevant.