When designing dashboards, designers play a certain role. A designer helps identify the information that should be displayed, so that the reader of the dashboard is presented with the information that is relevant to them or her.
The designer knows how to make good use of the limited space that is available, while simultaneously applying methods to create a visual hierarchy of information, and uses visualization techniques that result in meaningful and condensed visual representations of the raw data involved.
Lastly, the designer reduces and shapes the concentrated data in such a way that it can be immediately interpreted by using various presentations techniques such as color, type, size, geometric shapes, iconography, charts, and graphs.
The designer typically knows which presentation is most suitable for a given piece of information.
Here are some basic characteristics for good dashboards and some things that dashboard designers should avoid:
There are several necessary characteristics of dashboards:
- A dashboard should fit on one screen and be tailored to the aims and objectives of users and what they are trying to get done.
- Show relevant, and only relevant information. The most important information should be shown first, and in such a way that treats the limited space in the most economical way possible, while still keeping the information readable, perceivable, and legible.
- Information should allow users to get access to the data it is derived and condensed from, allowing users to drill down to inspect further when necessary.
When designing dashboards the following things should be avoided:
- Don’t make users scroll a dashboard. If users have to scroll, then the dashboard has failed
- Don’t show superfluous graphics that have no meaning or provide little to no insights
- Don’t prevent users from accessing detailed information if they need to drill down, and don’t include unprocessed data that requires users to calculate, or start interpretation