Business Intelligence (BI) and the benefits it can bring to your business has been well covered. If you need to catch up, our last few blogs have been all about ‘BI’ and the things it can do for organisations. Now we’re turning our attention to the actual design of your dashboards. It’s all very well having them, but you want them to be engaging, and tell the right stories.
It can be easy when building a dashboard to get distracted and feel like you should have every type of graph showing every bit of data all on the same page. Unfortunately this can often have the opposite of the desired effect and make your data harder to read. The idea here is that your dashboard makes it clear, concise and easy to understand.
Lets see how you can best do that.
1 – Who’s your audience?
It’s important to ask yourself firstly who the dashboard is for. This may seem too simple to be worth mentioning, but it is often easy to forget. As with most aspects of business, to be the most effective you can, you need to target the right audience.
Some good examples to think about here; is this for the sales team looking at the sales pipeline, or is it actually for the leadership team checking top-level KPI’s? If you include the same information on both dashboards you’re wasting space and will end up confusing the picture. Keep it simple, keep it concise.
2 – Group data where you need it
One of the key elements of UI/UX design is that things are where people expect them to be. The same principle applies in dashboards. Put data where it makes sense for it to be – group it together logically. If you have a stack of financial data, don’t space it between graphs that monitor server down time for example. Again, you’re trying to make the picture clearer, not more muddy.
Worth considering here is that people’s eyes will naturally be drawn to the top-left hand corner. This makes it a good place to stick your most important piece of data. You can always move your logo somewhere else.
3 – Less is sometimes more
Cluttering your dashboards with every type of graph you can think of isn’t a good thing. Nor is including every single metric that may be of use. Decide what your most important (emphasis on most here) metrics are, and make room for them only.
In tools such as Power BI you can drill down further into these graphs anyway – so even if data isn’t immediately available on the first screen, you will be able to find it on subsequent screens.
Some other presentation tips for you:
- Don’t go mad on the colour schemes – keep it simple
- Red and green are obvious choices for positive and negative performance
- Try to keep the number of metrics below 12 per dashboard
- Choose the right charts – pie charts are god for comparing sections of a whole, and scatter charts are better for analysing performance and identifying outliers.
4 – Make it responsive to different devices
Making your dashboards easier for your users to access and make sense of is the recurring theme here. The point of BI is that you can access the full view of your data anywhere, anytime. So accessing it on any device is crucial. Your BI software should respond and resize to whichever size screen your users are logging on from.
Tools like Microsoft’s Power BI are HTML5 compliant and provide access on any device, adapting to the screen size and reordering your dashboard correctly. If people need data on the go, out in the field, then this is something you definitely need to consider.
5 – How up to date does it need to be?
Be honest with yourself here. The idea of having real-time data displayed is very attractive and initially you may think you want all your dashboards to be real-time or near real-time. However, getting hold of real-time data and processing it can be a lot of wasted effort if you only really need weekly or bi-weekly updates. Even daily updates would be a big drop. This could save you bags of time and money.
You may decide that some dashboards need to be real-time, and some only need weekly updates. This is perfectly achievable, and is the right approach to take. This is a good step to making your dashboards more relevant.
If you’d like to find out more about the benefits Power BI could bring to your organisation, explore our Business Intelligence Services.
Or for a free consultation, talk to us today.