How to build an effective dashboard
When creating dashboards you want them to be as clear and easy to use for the user as possible. By following the steps listed in this post you are able to take your dashboards to the next level. We will first list all the things you have to take into consideration when building dashboards and later on we will discuss those same things in more detail.
Things to remember when building an effective dashboard
- Show the right things – Dashboards are meant to articulate the key goals with simple metrics to your team. It is important to remember that unless the dashboard is clear and evident, it is not going to be used or understood. To help you get started and to get on the right track we’ve gathered a checklist for healthy dashboards.
- Make sure you understand what you are aiming for – Set a clear research question for the dashboard.
- Name the dashboard right – Make sure to answer the question you are going to visualize on the dashboard even in the name.
- Stay on one topic and set clear guidelines for what you will present – There is no point showing everything in the dashboard. Stay on the topic and create more dashboards to answer other questions.
- Describe the data you are going to show – Each widget has a description field that you can use to showcase what the widget is telling you.
- Set main points first – In each dashboard you should set the main focus idea on the first two widgets. That will help the user to be able to take an even deeper dive.
- Create dashboards that are fairly similar – Every dashboard might have different data, but the style you are using to present the data should be somewhat cohesive. That helps users to immediately grasp the logic behind it.
- Group data that has relevance – Sniffie widgets give easy ways to group data. Make sure you group data that actually needs grouping. That helps users to drill down in a meaningful way.
- Last but not least – Be clear and concentrate on the main points.
Show the right things
One thing is clear. Dashboards are meant to articulate the key goals with simple metrics to your team. It is important to remember that unless the dashboard is clear and evident, it is not going to be used or understood. To help you get started and to get on the right track we’ve gathered a checklist for healthy dashboards.
When you start to build a dashboard, the main focus should be on the question: What are you trying to achieve with your dashboard? What is the main purpose of this dashboard? What type of user am I trying to reach? How should they react to the data and when?
The main point is that the dashboard you are building is communicating something relevant, something that has a meaning. So make sure you are coherent and clear, so that your team can understand what they should see in the dashboard and how to interpret that information.
Make sure you understand what you are aiming for
When you are finally clear what you want to tell your audience with your dashboards, you should make the matter clear. Set a clear research question for the dashboard and communicate that in simple terms. Let’s say you are trying to develop a category management dashboard. You add data on category sizes and average prices. Maybe even what brands are most common and well placed and priced. Then it is vital to keep the views answering the category questions. If you add data on other subjects such as campaigns, offers or even new products that might take the focus off from where it should be.
That said. When you create dashboards try to answer only one research question at a time.
Naming is the king
One simple tip: Name your dashboards right. The clearer the name, the easier it is to understand. It is also advisable to use the same naming ways across all dashboards. Then people know what to expect and are already in the right mindset.
Stay on the topic
Staying on the topic is a bit different than knowing what you are about to say. Staying on the topic means that you should only visualize the main points. If you are talking about all the different details, even about the same topic, you make people confused.
Good thumb rule is that you should keep your insights to a maximum of five points. The more there is, the more likely you are to lose your audience and their interest.
Describe the data you are going to show
Sniffie widgets can be easily named and described. And for a reason. Clear dashboard starts from a clear name and then widgets that start from the main picture with a clear name and description matching what you are looking for.
Each widget should build insight on top of each other. Explain what you see and what you can do it with.
Set main points first
In each dashboard you should set the main focus idea on the first two widgets. That will help the user to fall into deeper dive.
One good tip is that you should use different visualizations to open up the same exact point. Average prices on a category level in a grouped price matrix and price spreads in a box plot. People will immediately understand that if the average price is used by everyone or if the price level is scattered all around.
Create similar dashboards
Creating dashboards that are always using the same logic is only wise. That way your team can immediately get what they want. They know what you are showing them and how they can interpret that. Every dashboard might have different data, but the style you are using to present the data should be somewhat cohesive. That helps users to immediately grasp the logic behind it.
Group data that has relevance
Sniffie widgets give you an easy way to group data. Make sure you group data that actually needs grouping. That helps users to drill down in a meaningful way. For example in category analytics you might want to include branding into category or color variants to product models. These will be easily expandable and thus create added value when opened up.