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How to Design Your Dashboard – Principles for an Effective and Clean Dashboard

Part of our everyday life is progressing into a more digital age and way of communicating. Over the past 2 years, largely due to the pandemic, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of businesses going remote and holding the majority of their work meetings virtually. The same goes for the way data is being gathered and reported. With Consolidata, you’re able to group your data from every data source into just 1 fully customizable dashboard that’s unique to each one of your clients. 

With that in mind, it’s important that you take a measured approach to creating your dashboard. It’s a great way to let your creative side out when designing your dashboard but it can also become a detriment to your reporting if done poorly. So, we’re going to look at how you can design your dashboard in a clean and effective way. For that, it’s also important to focus on where you are as a business (as well as your business’ individual relationship with its clients), what your goals are and your understanding of metrics and KPI’s. 

Know Your Audience

For starters, it’s important to consider who will be viewing your dashboard. It’s easy to get caught up in looking smart and analytical but the truth is not everybody cares for the graphs and table charts. Think about who your audience is as an individual, are they somebody who is direct and likes their communication to be short and to the point? Are they someone who prefers to know all of the details and asks a ton of questions? Are they constantly on the go or are they well-prepared for every meeting? 

Understanding who you are designing the dashboard for will help you save time and give you a better sense of what data to include and not include. It’s also important to remember the purpose of a Dashboard, which is to effectively and efficiently collect and communicate information that will facilitate the decision-making process for your clients or audience.

Determine your Goals 

Along with understanding who your audience is, it’s important to understand what your goals are. Because there’s so much information to be gathered, understanding your goals will help you determine which KPIs and bits of data are important and which you can leave out of the dashboard. Along with making your dashboard easy to understand you also want it to be valuable to your audience. So, understanding your KPIs will help you determine which of them add value and which don’t.

Understand Your KPIs 

Once you understand your goals, understanding your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) becomes a little easier. For example, let’s say you’re running an ad campaign on Facebook and your goal is to bring in extra 20-30 visitors to your website every month. In this case, the KPI’s you’re looking for are:

  • CPC’s (Cost Per Clicks) 
  • CTR (Click Through Rate)
  • Impressions
  • Frequency
  • Reach 
  • Website Conversion Rate
  • Results
  • Cost Per Results

So in all you have a good amount of KPIs to look at so you can strategically place them on the dashboard. In this instance, adding all of those KPI’s into one chart in your dashboard wouldn’t make much sense. One thing you’d want to look for is which of those correlates directly with each other. In this case, you can make one chart telling the story of where your CPC, CTR, Impressions and Reach are, as a result of your ad Frequency. This brings to mind another point, choosing the right type of dashboard.

Select the Right Type of Dashboard

As mentioned above, the dashboard is only valuable if it can make the decision-making process easier for your audience. You want whoever is viewing it to be able to make decisions based on the information you provided and employ the information into their own strategies and goals. With that in mind, choosing the right type of dashboard is important because there’s different dashboards that are better for different branches of business-based activity. 

Strategic – A dashboard focused on long-term company strategies.

Operational – Used best to monitor, measure and manage business operations with a shorter time scale.

Analytical – Used best for analysts to dig into deeper streams of information and extract insights to help the company to progress at an executive level.

Platform-Specific – A dashboard used for when you want to extract data from a specific platform whether it be Facebook, Linkedin, Google etc.

Tactical – A dashboard best used for formulating growth based on strengths and weaknesses across different departments.

Keep it Simple

Last but not least, keep it simple. It’s easy and tempting to get caught up in the frills of design.Although it’s important to make sure the dashboards look good, what’s more important is the ability to find the key information quickly. Use images, backgrounds and effects only when there is a reason or use for them. You want the design process to be well thought out but the end result should be a simple and seamless experience for the intended viewer. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time explaining the dashboard itself rather than discussing the data at hand.

The Bottom Line

Dashboards are one of the best ways to communicate information and keep track of your goals. Being able to customize your dashboard allows for even more freedom so that you and your team can focus on the bits of information relevant to your goals. However, if not done properly, the important information can get lost through the design process. At Consolidata we’re excited about more users customizing their own dashboards and we hope this blog provided some of the needed guidance to get you started.

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