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Dashboard Analytics Design Best Practices

Dashboards are kind of like the homepage of a website, but for data analytics. It’s where the most relevant information will be found, laid out in a variety of charts and graphs. From a dashboard, users can follow different pathways to dig deeper into the data. 

Dashboards are supposed to be functional. The design of a dashboard should prioritize usability and user experience, while keeping an emphasis on aesthetics and flow. Here are some dashboard analytics design best practices for optimizing your organization. 

What Problems Is the Dashboard Intended to Solve?

When thinking about dashboard design, it’s important to understand individual dashboards are used for different things. Because of this, not all dashboards should look the same. 

There are three main types of BI dashboards—all with different purposes:

  • Strategic dashboards are for higher-level members of an organization. They contain general, broad information about the health of an enterprise. 
  • Analytical dashboards leverage a business’s stored data to help create a picture of how things are happening over a period of time. These types of dashboards will be best for those who want to use data for digging deeper into long-term trends.
  • Operational dashboards give up-to-date information about what’s happening right now. Real-time analytics are ideal for users who need to make decisions in the moment. 

It’s essential to understand the purpose of a dashboard before designing it. Otherwise, you’ll inundate users with info that doesn’t really help that much. 

Afford Control to Users

Flexibility can make dashboard analytics far more effective. One of the main reasons you want to give users control with dashboard layout and display is it’s hard to predict what they’ll need. 

You can take a bunch of time designing what you perceive to be the perfect dashboard. But if it displays a graph in a way that’s not effective, it’s going to end up costing workers time and patience. Simply making dashboards responsive can alleviate this, as users can choose which displays work for them in any given situation. 

Put the Important Stuff First

People go to their dashboards to see relevant information pertaining to their jobs. Each dashboard should be designed with this in mind. 

There’s far too much specificity in analytical and operational dashboards for them to be sent out to all employees with the same template. It’s unlikely everyone is working on the exact same thing; so their dashboards shouldn’t be the exact same, either. Putting the most important frames related to each employee’s position will make their workflows much more efficient. 

Don’t Stuff the Dashboard

Some people might be tempted to cram as many tiles as possible into a dashboard. After all, knowledge is power, right? While you don’t want to make dashboards overly minimal to the point where you’re barely getting anything at all, stuffing them isn’t a good move. 

For starters, people can get confused and overwhelmed when there’s too much happening on their dashboards. This also circles back to the idea of putting the most crucial information first. Not only will people get bogged down when their dashboards have too many tiles, they can lose focus of the true intent of their dashboards and what they’re supposed to communicate. 

Keep Things Consistent 

This is one of the more necessary steps to take from a design perspective. Dashboards within your organization should be consistent in terms of colors, symbols, and anything else used as demarcations. 

 

It’s easy to see how inconsistency here could lead to confusion, especially if employees in different departments don’t have the same standards. Keeping design elements as consistent as possible will limit the likelihood of mistakes. 


Dashboard reporting is one of the most common forms of BI analytics today, with over 75 percent of companies utilizing it. Building the best possible dashboards will help your organization reach its potential.

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