Mobile Dashboard Design Best Practices
The field of mobile dashboard development comes with special challenges for both BI managers and designers. Developers must consider the array of mobile platforms on the market and contend with reduced screen real estate. To ensure a seamless user experience, let’s look at best practices for mobile dashboard design.
Keep It Simple
Mobile dashboard designers must balance functionality with consumer expectations of user experience. The balance between these two requirements is a challenge made more complicated by the rapid proliferation and evolution of smartphones and tablets. This means dashboards must be designed to run on different screen sizes and multiple platforms. As such, mobile dashboard designs should be kept simple. The less involved and complicated the dashboard is, the easier it will be to fit in additional functionality. By focusing on a subset of key data, designers can reduce the size of their mobile dashboards (meaning increased portability for mobile devices) and optimize use of available screen real estate. Simple and minimal dashboard designs minimize clutter, enabling users to easily see and access dashboard elements. Also, delivering a mobile dashboard with a minimal set of features allows users to focus on key outliers and KPIs. This helps increase productivity since causative factors can be easily pinpointed in problematic or successful areas.
It’s essential to create dashboards that are responsive to the screen of any device so they can be used consistently across interfaces. This can be accomplished by developing dashboards within a mobile application or using HTML-based responsive code, which can be accessed in a web browser. Responsive design requires a single set of code to be developed and recognizes the size of the screen to resize the dashboard accordingly. Dashboards can then be accessed using a phone, web browser, tablet, watch, or TV screen.
Although this seems like a no-brainer, it’s surprising how often designers get placement wrong. People are conditioned to read from top to bottom and left to right. As a result, the most important elements should be placed in the top left corner, while the least important should go to the bottom right. It’s also important to ensure the dashboard doesn’t require scrolling, so everything should be above the page fold.
Maximize the Use of Feature Charts
Since the screen size of mobile devices can only display a few data tables and charts, it’s best to use them wisely. When it comes to mobile dashboard design, bar charts and pie charts are great tools for linking other visuals within the same page or in other reports. Features like pop-up panels and tool tips can help users get the details they need with minimum hassle.
Drill with Importance
Although dashboards were intended to drill down and provide in-depth views of key performance data, creating one with 10 panels for smartphone users isn’t a good idea. Mobile dashboards should only feature summarized data, key information, and trending KPIs on the landing page. Users can then choose to access secondary details using pagination or drill-downs.
Minimize the Use of Filters
The right set of filters helps mobile workers better leverage reports and mobile dashboards. Although filters enable users to quickly access different data views, they are best kept to a minimum on mobile devices. This helps conserve limited screen real estate and improves overall experience on mobile.
Designers should always maintain the same layout and user interface when designing reports and dashboard elements. It can be confusing when the look and feel of reports are completely different from that of the mobile dashboard. Keeping colors consistent across all reports and providing an intuitive workflow helps accelerate users’ learning curve and eliminates confusion.
Since the screen sizes of mobile devices are smaller than those of desktop devices, it’s best to create aesthetically pleasing interfaces for mobile dashboards. Designers can do this by contrasting foreground and background colors. This is effective because mobile devices tend to represent objects in the foreground with lighter colors, while darker colors are used for the background. Applying this to mobile dashboards means that outliers and KPIs will become more visible.
Limit the Number of Elements
When it comes to mobile dashboard design, simplicity is key. The more design elements in a dashboard or report, the harder it is for users to make sense of the data. It’s easier to make out important values when reports are presented in a simple data sheet rather than flashy charts with lots of data points and colors. Ideally, mobile dashboards should only include the minimum number of elements required and should never exceed four or five on any given screen. Trying to fit more will result in overly busy visualizations,¬¬ and users will be unable to properly view individual elements.
“Fat-Finger” Friendly Design
Nearly everyone who has ever used a smartphone has tried to select a button, dropdown menu, icon, or other elements from an app and ended up selecting something else. This can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially when it happens multiple times in a row. The reduced screen real estate on mobile devices makes it challenging for users to select items/objects that are next to each other. When designing mobile dashboards, it’s essential for designers to eliminate these barriers. Mobile dashboard designers should incorporate adequate spacing between visuals, links, and filters. Ensure that touch targets do not overlap and are at least 48 x 48 dp so users can comfortably select them with their fingers.
Focus on the Right Metrics
Most individuals who use mobile dashboards have little or no need to view analytics on their devices. This is because the limited screen sizes of mobile devices aren’t ideal for in-depth analysis and drilled-down data. Also, workers who use mobile dashboards are usually on the go and aren’t in a position to sit down and take the time to look through large datasets. It’s obvious that certain types of data won’t be beneficial to or viewed by mobile dashboard users. As such, analytical data visualization capabilities shouldn’t be included when designing mobile dashboards. Most workers will only use mobile dashboards when they need to view information on relevant operational performance metrics, as these can be quickly consumed for immediate data-driven action.