Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dashboard Best Practices

The effective way to implement a dashboard is to place everything on one screen only.

Dashboards are visual displays that present the most important information needed to achieve specific goals & objectives captured on a single screen. Actionable data enables better decision making. Dashboard mediums continue to grow in scope, which is great on one hand, but, will dashboards outlive their usefulness? Here are some Dashboard best practices.

User-centricity: The number one best practice is to always have your audience, and the specific business goal in mind while developing the dashboard. This will help set the stage for what tools and techniques best fit the given project. The next bit of advice would be to avoid space wasters like pie graphs and gauges. Humans have a hard time making comparisons with those tools. A bullet graph, sparkline, or more traditional line/bar charts will work just fine. 
The ability to collaborate: How can we help the user analyze the numbers? In Share-point, you can connect people, documents and you can always put in an ability to comment. In that way, the users can collaborate and help each other make good decisions
KPI Perspective: An important dashboard best practice is that the information presented has a clear alignment to the strategy that the audience is trying to execute/manage by using the dashboardBI specialists could really do well with some KPI skills, so they can help their clients design the information before they design the dashboard. Less is more: the well-defined KPIs being visualized clearly to connect the cross-functional audience 
"What story does the data need to tell?" Meaningful scorecard needs to originate from all involved, not those guessing at what end-user needs to see, hence, what story, how often, by whom, and WHY! Visualizing actionable data is meaningless if no one can see it act upon. It could be contextual. If the user cannot understand what he/she is seeing in a glance, then something is surely wrong. 
Act as a consultant by examining key factors: Scope creep is always a factor. Getting visual sequence and story data needs to resonate is essential to well construct and thought out data visualization. Dashboards should be audience-focused, not data-focused. The scoping part can be challenging sometimes. The audience doesn’t always know what they want. The developer of the dashboard needs to act as the consultant in these situations by examining their strategic plans, current priority problems, questions they recently have asked analysts to answer.
The logical, also intuitive processes:  It’s a process of facilitating the users to understand what they are trying to achieve management/improvement through the use of the data. Then translating this into a set of well-designed measures and analysis, and then designing a way to communicate that information to them.
The appropriate visual design: It allows users to examine and perceive a large amount of information very quickly and to use them to see the big picture or to identify any items that deserve attention and further analysis. Your design has to facilitate that. The effective way to implement a dashboard is to place everything on one screen only; that way, users have no need to compare data from different pages at the same time. Furthermore, dashboards have to show dense business information on small spatial space that communicates unambiguously, simply and rapidly.


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