Create a mockup of the dashboard
Now that you have a concise plan of action for your dashboard, you will start working toward the first version to share with stakeholders and end users. You want to start by creating a dashboard mockup in order to quickly assess the success of your plan in a collaborative setting. Building a mockup is even more critical for stakeholders who have a passive mentality toward a new dashboard implementation within your organization.
Creating a dashboard mockup will allow you to simulate how an end user will interact and navigate through business metrics and supporting analytics. When assembling your dashboard mockup, you will include the minimal metrics needed to communicate the overall end user experience for navigating and digesting information. This process will enable a rapid development path, which in turn will enable you to quickly make changes and adjustments without having to re-configure the logic and data connectivity.
Because a dashboard is an evolving process, you can expect the users and stakeholders to request major changes once they can actually see their information in your mockup. Once you have a final mockup, you will be able to re-use some of the work in your final version of your dashboard.
Design with the end user in mind
As you transform your ideas into your digitalized dashboard, you must design your layout and navigation to facilitate an end user experience that enables the quick assimilation and digestion of information. To ensure a positive user experience, you should:
• Utilize the screen real estate effectively by placing the most important information in the upper left or center of the page. Physical size and color can also be used to draw attention to important information on the screen.
• Add selectors to break up content logically or to enable a user to drill down into data, but not to interfere with the analysis itself. In creating a dashboard your want to facilitate analysis of multiple related metrics or trends without overloading your end user with too much information. It is a unique balancing act that must be dictated by the dashboard end users, so you understand the required depth and breadth of analysis.
• Understand the technical competency of your end users to ensure that you create an interface that requires minimal clicking to access information.
• Use color schemes that make values easy to read and easy on the eyes.
• Combine components and create layers of information that enable a natural workflow for accessing and digesting information.
• Use labels to identify all of the information so that a new end user could understand what information they are looking at without any formal training. With that said, you should always try to include some help text or popup help icons.
Don’t get lost in the visualization sex and sizzle
While Xcelsius does provide a wide array of components, features, and graphical enhancements to spice up your dashboard, you want to ensure that you do not misuse or overuse these features and loose sight of the dashboard’s overall purpose. In describing “getting lost in the visualization sex and sizzle,” I elude to designers who get wrapped up in adding too much spice to the dashboard when it is not completely necessary. This entails using appropriate visualization methods for displaying quantitative information.
In the next part, we will look at some best practices to finalize your production dashboard.