Using graphic design principles to design user-friendly corporate dashboards
Dashboards are tools business analysts use to aggregate and display vital data and key performance indicators at a glance to monitor and assess business performance. Because we do not have a user interface/user experience design team at our organization, these dashboards are created by technology analysts in the IT department, who place more importance on the back-end data models than the front-end interface. This has led to poorly designed dashboards that confuse analysts.
To address this gap, I worked with analysts to understand their goals and pain points and partnered with data engineers to develop data models that seamlessly sourced and automatically refreshed data. I used design principles to construct dashboards that were intuitive and informative.
Considering User Needs
choosing the right graphic
Data is classified into nine broad categories: chronology, segmentation, magnitude, distribution, geographic, ranking, deviation, correlation, and flux. By picking a certain graph, I am instructing the user on how to examine the information. As a result, before developing any dashboards, I consult with users to understand the questions they are attempting to answer and the decisions they are attempting to make. I use this to choose the appropriate graphs
planning the layout across pages
Every dashboard serves a particular function and audience; hence their layouts differ. However, for each dashboard, I strive to address the same questions: how should a user navigate the dashboard? In what sequence should they see the data? Which visuals interact well with one another? Which image will receive the most attention? What level of information is necessary for the reporting?
To make it easier for the end user to browse without becoming confused, I keep the color, text, and layout similar across the sites. Because not all Power BI users are familiar with the UI, I offer small help hints and legends that are suggested.
receiving feedback and iterating
After developing dashboards, I check in with end users regularly to assess what works and iterate depending on their changing needs.
Maintaining this feedback loop with end users and routinely discussing how dashboards may be enhanced has shown to be effective in establishing trust in the reporting process.