Dashboards blend together data from multiple sources to provide a single, cohesive interface for analysis of data. These condensed, highly intuitive views of data help facilitate dialogue by exposing trends, patterns, or anomalies that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. 

The persuasiveness and effectiveness of any dashboard relies heavily on design. When creating a dashboard, it’s important to consider its layout, composition, and interactivity to ensure maximum impact. Here are some suggestions you can start implementing today to take your dashboards to the next level.

  1. Keep it consistent: Data that falls in the same value ranges should be represented by the same color hue across the dashboard. This creates a standard point of reference that makes it easy for users to quickly relate values to each other—and better understand the overall story.
  2. Limit the number of colors: A dashboard is a canvas, but too much color can lead to sensory overload and confusion. In the case of business dashboards, less is more. Keep in mind that complex visualizations will involve more colors than simple ones.
  3. Use color to highlight patterns in data: Play around with color hues and tone to group data points together or highlight contrasts. Hue refers to the color itself while tone refers to color intensity.
  4. Don’t shy away from white space: No one likes clutter, including the intended audience of your dashboard. Consider how many visualizations are in your dashboard and try limiting it to no more than three. Dashboards that display complex visualizations should be mindful of other visualizations on the canvas.
  5. Lead with compelling content: Users have short attention spans, so dashboard real estate is precious! Pick your most important visualization and feature it prominently.
  6. Context is key: Users need as much guidance as possible. Use visualization titles and text boxes to offer directions or explain the visualization filter. Providing context makes it much easier for users to engage with the dashboard, without any additional help.
  7. Use filters to streamline visualizations: Consider implementing targeted filters for specific visualizations or dashboard-wide ones to help narrow the scope of the data displayed. Filters help reduce the clutter in a visualization and can enable users to surface insights more quickly. They also prevent bringing in an excessive amount of data, which can slow down response times and hurt the overall user experience.
  8. Support epic visuals with details: Dashboards should tell a story. When developing a dashboard, display a visualization that showcases an overall trend alongside visualizations that drill down to a more granular level.