Geckoboard has offered up some useful tips for creating a successful dashboard. We have included the first 3 here. For the full article you can visit here.
Dashboards are often created on-the-fly with data being added simply because there is some white space not being used. Different people in the company ask for different data to be displayed and soon the dashboard becomes hard to read and full of meaningless non-related information. When this happens, the dashboard is no longer useful.
This article discusses the steps that need to be taken during the design phase in order to create a useful and actionable dashboard.
Rule 1 – Who are you trying to impress?
“Does the CFO really need to know the servers are operating at 95% capacity”
Think about the audience for the dashboard. The most effective dashboards target a single type of user and just display data specific to that ‘use case’.
Is the dashboard going to be used by the executive team to monitor the companies financials or will it be used by the marketing team to monitor daily activities. It’s important to ensure that where possible your dashboard consists of data specific to a single audience. Often this step is overlooked and dashboards include a mix of data, some of which is relevant to one audience and some to another.
Rule 2 – Select the right type of dashboard
There are 3 common types of dashboard, each performing a specific purpose.
The types of dashboard are;
- Strategic / Executive
These dashboards display data that facilitate the operational side of a business. For example in a business with a website, it’s important to ensure that your website remains up and running, so you would monitor server up-time and utilisation. In a business with an inside sales function, you may want to measure number of calls made and number of appointments booked.
Think of an operational dashboard as monitoring the nerve centre of your operation. Operational dashboards often require real-time or near real-time data.
Strategic / Executive Dashboards
Strategic dashboards will typically provide the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that a companies executive team track on a periodic (daily, weekly or monthly basis). A strategic dashboard should provide the executive team with a high-level overview of the state of the business together with the opportunities the business faces.
This data could be;
- Periodic revenue (vs prior period)
- Costs (vs prior period)
- Headcount (by department)
- Sales pipeline
An analytical dashboard could display operational or strategic data. However this type of dashboard will offer drill-down functionality – allowing the user to explore more of the data and get different insights. Often dashboards include this functionality when it is not required. Do not simply provide this functionality because you can.
Bear in mind that different user groups may require different types of dashboard. The marketing manager may need both a Strategic and Operational view of their data. Where possible create two separate Dashboards.
Rule 3 – Group data logically – Use space wisely
A well designed dashboard will ensure that data is displayed in logical groups. For example if a dashboard includes Financial KPI’s and Sales Pipeline, ensure that the financial data is displayed next to each other, with the Sales Pipeline data displayed together in a separate logical group.
Grouping is often by department or functional area and can include;
- Product (Inventory, development)
- Sales Marketing
- Finance (Actuals and forecasts)
Often the most important real-estate on a dashboard (top left hand corner) is reserved for a company logo or a navigation tool. This is not good dashboard practice as the part of the screen is the most important part of your dashboard (this is because most western languages read from top to bottom and from left to right – hence our eye will start it’s journey when discovering something new at the top left hand corner.
Read the rest of the article here.