Now that we know more about dashboards and what kind of dashboard you may need for your business, lets talk about dashboard design. Knowing what kind of dashboard you need is only one piece of the puzzle. Like most things in life, the way something looks can often determine how we feel about it. If a dashboard design doesn’t look clean and simple then chances are the user will become disoriented and frustrated.
Take a long look at this dashboard… which is ironically our first problem. An ideal dashboard should be able to provide you with the data that you need at a quick glance. If you find yourself having to stare at your dashboard to gain the information needed then your dashboard is way too detailed and confusing. So lets break down everything that is wrong this this dashboard.
This is a dashboard for your business, not Skittles… we are not trying to taste the rainbow
There’s way too much color going on in this dashboard. Too much color distracts from the data that should be the star of the dashboard and makes your brain have to work extra hard to separate what each color means.
How to fix:
If you can’t bare the idea of not having color on your dashboard then utilize your colors in a way that will better help you understand your data at a glance. For example: use the color green to represent when a number is good or close to your goal. Use the color yellow when numbers are just average or in progress. Finally, use the color red when your numbers are far from your goal that’s been set.
Put on your 3D glasses for this presentation
Okay, lets be real for a second… does anyone actually enjoy 3D movies? The combination of the disorienting screen and the glasses that you’re forced to wear will give you a headache! Well, same concept with a dashboard. You don’t need all the 3D visualizations, like movies, 3D only hurts rather than helps how your dashboard looks. 3D visualizations take away from the simplicity of viewing your data and in turn make processing the information harder.
How to fix:
2D the dashboard. Simple as that, I know it’s tempting to add that drop shadow, but don’t do it!
Pie chart mayhem
Pie charts are anything but a quick read. You’re having to take the time to take in the numbers and then glance over to the legend to understand what each “slice” of the pie means.
How to fix:
The dashboard above has a pie chart, but also bar graphs which are much easier and quicker to dissect. However, while this dashboard did the right thing with the bar graphs they included too many colors which still makes it hard to read. Instead, use one color to determine the data.
Don’t make your user need glasses
While the each section of the dashboard above is easy to determine, it’s still hard to read what exactly is being said. The font size is way too small on this dashboard which once again takes away from being able to quickly gather information. There’s nothing hasty about having to squint and get your face closer to the screen to read what something is saying.
How to fix:
Increase your font size! Create a hierarchy in font size, making it easy to read labels and understand the data.
Keys to good dashboard design
In summary: simple and clean designs are most beneficial to dashboards. Use your colors wisely, don’t use 3D graphics, stay away from pie charts and use good font sizes are a great start. Remember to leave white space between each section on the dashboard and make things as simple as possible in order to utilize your dashboard in the best way.