Best Practices for Information Visualization on Data/Admin Dashboards

Data dashboards are very effective for information visualization. At its simplest, dashboards are application screens that show data in a powerful and unique way. Data visualization techniques are implied for the relevant display of actionable data. Dashboards are designed to present data in a quick, intelligent, user-friendly, and easy-to-scan way so that the most relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be tracked at a glance. In general, dashboards offer a global overview of the performance indicators, in addition, giving the users with access to the appropriate control, relevant data, and most important information and functions.

We can easily figure out a wide range of dashboard designs depending upon a variety of their applications and use case scenarios. Depending upon the intended use and type of the dashboard, it may consist of quick links, profile information, notification alerts, graphical representation of data, navigational design elements, information visualization in the form of data tables, and any other form of visual representation of information and data. These are all the most common components of dashboards that are widely used for designing and developing an effective and interactive data/admin dashboard.

The right approach to information visualization is the most important feature which helps in lying down the base for highly adoptable dashboard design. The purpose of designing a dashboard lies in its ability to create a deliverable that must be easily understood. An efficient dashboard always saves time for its users by simplifying the complex data into an easy-to-understand visual representation. In this regard, we are going to present, some of the best practices to design a data/admin dashboard for effective information visualization.

Clarity, Intuitiveness, and Customization

Great dashboards are always expected to be very clear, intuitive, and customizable. The dashboard must b designed in a way to communicate information very quickly. It should display the data very efficiently in a clear and concise way. Changing trends over different spans of time should be clearly demonstrated in an effective way. It must also be an easily customizable dashboard for a better user experience. This is the art of showing maximum information in a limited space with clarity and intuitiveness.

Reducing Complexity

In an overwhelming world, full of data and complexity, it becomes a very difficult task to deliver all the meaningful information in a short, clear, and concise way, especially when, there is a lot of data to be displayed in very little space. That is why prioritized segregation of data is very important to accomplish. Display the most relevant data on the dashboard which lies higher in your priority list. To reduce complexity, present less but most important information. More information leads to complexity making the dashboard harder to understand quickly and easily. That is why the most relevant information should be displayed in the most appropriate visual style. Misleading and confusing data should be avoided to get displayed on the dashboard.

What exactly should we display on the dashboard?

An effective dashboard design is guided by three important parameters which help in deciding what to display on the dashboard. The goals of the project, the nature of the data, and the needs of the users interacting with the dashboard are key factors that should be taken into consideration while prioritizing the data for displaying on the dashboard. There is a need for extensive research and analysis for better understanding the needs of the businesses for whom the dashboard is subjected to get designed. On the other hand, it is also important to know what exactly your users want to see on the dashboard. User requirements should also be given priority for interactive and enhanced user experience.

Goal-based Dashboard Design

Good designers always go for goal-based designing of the dashboard. Successful designers focus on a well-defined set of goals and give heed to problem-solving techniques through actionable insights. A progressive drill-down system is designed in the first place giving a general overview of the overall system. A detailed overview of the system is put into the second place which goes into the further details of the general overview of the previous stage. While designing a progressive drill-down system, concrete calculations are done to minimize the number of steps a user must need to reach the specific goal. It is also important to consider whether the designed interface is intuitive enough for an average user to reach the specific goal without any pre-assumed guide or external assistance. This is how a successful dashboard is practiced with specific, actionable, time-based, most realistic, and measurable objectives.

How to decide the goal of your dashboard?

All the dashboards are designed to solve some specific problems of the users. Start with this most important question, what are the specific problems your dashboard is targeting to solve for its users? The answer to this question will help you to decide what kind of visuals, properties, and data sets are more appropriate to target such kind of problem statement. That is why such a goal-based design requires a clear understanding of the business objectives in the first place, then it takes into account real user requirements, and finally, communicate the most relevant information in a highly efficient and easy-to-understand visual depiction.
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Meeting Divergence

A successful dashboard can never be designed without user research. The biggest challenge for designing a dashboard is concerned with managing diversity. While our dashboard is subjected to serve multiple users from different backgrounds, it becomes very critical to understand where the needs of the users diverge and where they converge. Finding overlapping user requirements is very effective for designing a smart dashboard. That is why it is highly recommended to go for user research and take into consideration the user context while designing the dashboard. Technical knowledge of the users, their requirements, goals, familiarity with the system, and such other parameters are direction-giving tools.
Color pallets and suggestive iconography should also be taken into the context because of their enhanced interactivity offering to the users. In case if user interaction with the dashboard requires some sort of technical knowledge, suggestive iconography can be more interactive to deal with diversified user experience.

Progressive Disclosure

Progressive disclosure ensures the designing of a user-centric environment by reducing clutter. It is a technique for prioritization of user attention and helps avoid mistakes and save time by maintaining user attention. It also helps them to stick with the key features instead of going into the thorough detail of extra information. Such a progressive disclosure practice of building a dashboard reduces considerable error rates and improves the system efficiency through its prioritization of the features. It defers all those rarely used features to a secondary screen and places high priority features on the primary screen to make the application less error-prone and easier to understand. That is why such a practice of progressive disclosure is also highly suggested enhanced information visualization on data/admin dashboards.

Conclusion

Dashboards are powerful tools to convey information and communicate data. To design an effective dashboard with enhanced efficiency, all the essential information should be immediately accessible. Data should be prioritized and visualized in an effective way. Information visualization should be displayed in a prioritized hierarchy. Most appropriate visualization tools should be adopted for user-friendly communication of information. Clear, Intuitive, Customizable, and goal-based dashboards are capable enough to meet divergent user requirements. That is why a simplistic dashboard with less complexity and a prioritized hierarchy of data based on a progressive drill-down system is a good practice to develop successful data/admin dashboards.