The importance of data has reached an unimaginable height in recent years. Data is used everywhere across industries to understand the market, meet consumer demand, identify preferences, and ultimately make better business decisions.
One of the best ways to take advantage of data is to display it visually with tools like FusionCharts.
Data comes in various sizes and formats, and they are meaningless without proper analysis. Visualization is the visual presentation of data to extract meaningful information.
This data visualization is often done through a dashboard that allows users to engage with data via objects such as tables, data charts, and graphs.
Let’s discuss the top 10 things that every dashboard creator should know.
1. How to Use Dashboards in Data-Driven Decision Making
Data analysts, engineers, scientists, and anyone involved in the business intelligence and analytics fields will have the necessary knowledge, experience, and toolset to extract meaningful information from raw data. Yet, for others, raw data will be just a jumbled collection of letters and numbers.
An interactive dashboard is one of the most intuitive ways to present data. So let’s assume you are keeping track of all the purchases made by your consumers.
You can visualize this data to gain information on consumer spending habits, popular products, services, demographics, and more.
This information is presented via an interactive dashboard with properly visualized charts and graphs. You can then present them to managers to aid in informed business decision-making.
Any user can interact with the data presented in the dashboard to search, filter, and sort data and obtain the necessary information.
This ability enables them to gather valuable information that directly correlates to business outcomes, such as stocking more popular products, creating targeted marketing campaigns for specific demographics, and managing inventory using purchasing habits.
This information facilitates data-driven decision-making from the stakeholder level to daily operations throughout the organization.
2. Understand the Audience
The developers need to understand the audience to whom a dashboard will cater when creating it. The data points and visualizations will change depending on the audience.
For example, in an e-commerce platform, user purchase data such as IP addresses, device types, and operating systems will be more exciting fields for a technical audience.
Moreover, they should have the ability to query almost all the information about the purchases from the dashboard.
On the other hand, the more valuable data for a non-technical audience like the marketing department will be popular product information, user demographics, and so on.
Thus, dashboards should be built to cater to the needs of the specific target audience. It’s perfectly acceptable to construct multiple dashboards from the same data set even if they present the same data in different ways or categorizations.
3. Avoid Charts that Overload Your Dashboard
A dashboard should be easily accessible without waiting for the data to be populated.
The primary reason for performance issues is visualizations that overload the dashboard.
If there is a significant data set to be queried in the dashboard, it will undoubtedly cause the dashboard to be overloaded and even crash entirely in some instances.
Another consideration is dashboard integrations. An overloaded dashboard will lead to performance issues on the integrated software or platform, leading to a less-than-ideal user experience.
Whether you use the dashboard as a standalone entity or an embedded object, you should mitigate such occurrences by breaking down the data set into multiple subsets, loading a subset of data, and then loading other data as needed.
This reduces the initial load of the dashboard and provides a better user experience without any performance issues.
4. Show a Clear Direction
The goal of the dashboard is to convey some meaningful information. Therefore, we need to ensure that the data convey information clearly when designing one.
What is displayed within the dashboard should provide clear guidance to the audience regardless of its use, ranging from simple monitoring tasks to visualizing big data.
It can be a simple direction, such as showing the uptime of a set of servers, to a more complex direction, such as showing the complete network traffic breakdown.
This direction helps to scope the needs of the dashboard and eliminate any unnecessary components.
5. Test Your Dashboard Regularly
While most people ignore their dashboards once they are created, it is never a good practice. Data is constantly evolving, and a simple change in the underlying data set can cause a dashboard to become unusable.
So the best practice is to test your dashboards regularly.
This testing should involve checking whether the data is correct and whether the performance and all integrations are optimal and performing as expected.
Suppose these dashboards are protected with an authentication or authorization mechanism.
In that case, this regular testing should also incorporate access-control checks to ensure that dashboards are accessible only to the approved individuals.
6. Tell a Story with Your Dashboards
The dashboard should convey meaningful information regardless of whether the overall message is negative or positive.
It should essentially present a story of how the data came to the current state, what the current state is, and predictive data for the future if needed.
In other words, the dashboard should include the past (historical), present, and future (predictive) data, conveying a story to the audience.
This attribute directly relates to having a clear direction as it will help in this storytelling aspect. Ensure that the dashboard conveys a story that aligns with its intended use.
Think of a technical dashboard monitoring traffic; it should tell the story of the network flow.
At a basic level, this dashboard includes when and where the traffic is generated (source), the destinations, and the success or failure of each request or packet, clearly conveying the network traffic’s story.
7. Integrate Your Dashboards into Other Software Tools
A good dashboard should be able to be integrated with other software tools. Also, you will need to embed dashboards in different locations.
So a dashboard tool with extensive integration options for both front-end and back-end frameworks and tools will enable developers to customize and integrate dashboards.
You should always present the data in a location that is convenient for the audience to access.
For example, if they regularly log in to a specific platform, then you should integrate the dashboard to be a part of it, eliminating the need to access the dashboard separately.
8. Track Your Data
Since dashboards are nothing without data, users must ensure that the underlying data is uncorrupted and that it remains without significant changes.
This quality correlates with dashboard testing as data issues are the main reason for visualization inconsistencies and other dashboard issues.
Please keep track of data, including when and where it is generated, what transformations are applied to it, and the final formatted form used to create the dashboard.
A minor change like a field name edit can impact the data’s presentation within the dashboard. Also, the entire dashboard will become unusable if any calculations are completed using that field.
Therefore, it is essential to track all the changes to the underlying data set and modify the dashboards to match the changes in the data.
9. Accommodate Audience Members with Special Needs
Accessibility is an essential feature of any good dashboard. Some members of your audience will require assistance to grasp the dashboard fully.
Accessibility tools come into play to address this need by providing features such as screen-reader-friendly text, larger tooltips, and keyboard navigation.
Information density also plays a part here. The dashboard will not provide an ideal user experience if it’s tightly packed with accessibility tools.
Therefore, there must be a proper balance between information density and accessibility to create a dashboard accessible to a broader audience.
10. Keep Your Dashboards Clean and Easy to Read
Always keep the dashboards clean and readable. A dashboard should be legible at first glance. A quick look should be sufficient to gain the general idea.
Keep each visualization separate, follow a consistent format and color theme, provide proper filtering and sorting options, and manage the overall information density.
All these things contribute to a cleaner and more readable dashboard. However, it does not mean that dashboards cannot be information-dense. The clarity and readability of the dashboard relate to its presentation.
The dashboard can still be clean and readable even with high information density. Many people prefer a denser dashboard to view all the required information at once if it’s properly formatted and configured.
How Can I Create Stunning Dashboards with FusionCharts?
Dashboards are integral for visualizing data and presenting it in a meaningful manner to a broader audience.
A properly configured and maintained dashboard can be invaluable in any business process, from monitoring to making data-driven business decisions that can impact a whole organization.
Therefore, selecting a proper dashboard-creation tool is vital for implementing a data analysis process.
Tools like FusionCharts provide all the necessary features to create dashboards with over 100 charts and 2,000 maps, fully customizable interfaces, accessibility support, and first-party integrations with development frameworks.
These features all result in a straightforward yet powerful dashboard-creation experience. So why not give FusionCharts a try for your next dashboard project? Explore FusionCharts today!