Tips for dashboard designing

Tips for dashboard designing

A dashboard well designed is a very important asset when making decisions, that is why we bring these tips that can help you to succeed in your next dashboard design.

With this advice, you will get readers to focus on what actually matters not on distracting elements.

Before beginning, we share with you a list of concepts we will be using in this article.

  • Dashboard: It is a set of representations that help to monitor and analyze in a visual way one or several concepts.
  • User: Is who will be using the information to answer questions with dashboard help.
  • Graphic representation: It is the representation of data using visual resources, some examples are: bar graphics, a gauge of state, treemap, etc.
  • Hierarchical representation: It is a subset of graphic representations, which organizes data in a tree structure or uses father/son relations.
  • Context: Physical environment or situation in which the meaning of what is talked about depends

With these concepts clarified, we share with you our list of useful tips to improve your dashboards.

Use the same colors to represent the same things

To make it easier for the user to visualize and understand the context, it is recommended that you assign and use a specific color for each concept. In this way, the user will not have to see the legend of all graphic representations, at all times, but at a glance, they will know what concept you are talking about.

When assigning colors to concepts, be aware some colors have a strong connotation and this might distort the reader’s perception. That is the case for red, yellow, and green which usually represent a rate of bad, regular, and good.

For example, if you are doing a sales graphic and use the color red in the representation, the first impression would be negative, even if that is not the case.

Do not forget to keep clean lines

Give the information the space it needs, do not place it all in the same spot, nor use 3D effects, something very 90s and with a great power to distract. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, a dashboard has to be easy to consult and does not need any effort to differentiate elements.

This is an example of what a chart looks like with no space being given. In this case, it is impossible to visualize the data that is between 60% and 100% of the X axis. The overlapping of elements makes this chart useless to visualize all the data.

What solutions can be proposed? One option would be to change the scale of horizontal from linear to exponential, another option would be to filter by continent or finally evaluate how relevant the area of the circles is and replace it with a scatter chart.

Do not use 3D graphic representations

There are not as many cases where 3D representations are effective. One of their biggest problems is they tend to hide information because of overlapping, keep in mind we are representing information in a 2D support (paper or screen)

In this graphic, we can see when information is hidden. The overlapping here is that bad, that it is impossible to answer the question, how many people watch TV more than 4 hours a day?

To answer that question we need to see the information represented in the green color of the text, how many hours do you watch per day? (¿Cuántas horas al día ve?) But, since all the other concepts hide it completely it is impossible to see.

A solution that might come to your mind is to add a control to rotate the graphic, but it is important to remember the previous point and keep user attention focused on information and not on unnecessary and distracting efforts.

Take into account graphics bar should start at 0 in the value exis

Remember, our comprehension is very visual, mostly because more than 50% of our brain is intended to process visual information. Making it easier for us to remember physical features like the difference in the size of two objects that the actual value they represent. This is why if graphic bars do not start at 0 it becomes more difficult for readers to have an accurate perception and misunderstand the information.

In this example, you can see how the X axis starts at 200 and creates an illusion that looks like on 12th September there were double of visits and clicks as on 27th October.

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