Put a dashboard on IT

A practical guide to design effective dashboards

I’ve been exclusively designing products for enterprise for the past three years. I helped envisioning and designing +20 enterprise products for customers across the globe and from a diverse range of businesses.

Something keeps coming back from the Business, it’s the obsession for Dashboards and the demand of prioritisation in the project scope.

In fact, I’ve been noticing that the term dashboard is “used and abused” by many so I decided to write this article to try and raise awareness of what is a dashboard and what is not, and and talk about effective dashboards.

If we look back, the “dashboard concept” is not something new, dashboards have been developed for decades in may forms.

Morgan Stanley trading room in New York

Dashboards importance explains the existence of companies building products exclusively around dashboard development, such as Klipfolio, Tableau or Righware.

Effective Dashboards can be very helpful for Enterprise scene, but there are some misconceptions and concerns.

What is a dashboard?

A dashboard is a visual display layout of meaningful real-time information intended to effectively inform and communicate to users — a monitored dashboard speeds decision-making and will help you take better decisions and effectively drive you to take action.

Your car panel can be consider a Dashboard

Think about your car dashboard. You can see information about the speed you are going, vehicle temperature, water, millage, engine oil or petrol. You get warnings when your car is too hot, or when you left a door open. These are all great metrics to see in order for you to take decisions are they, to slow down, to stop, to review the engine oil levels, and so on.

Dashboard Misconceptions and Tips

  1. Do not call it “Dashboard” if it’s a “Homepage”
    Often in Apps navigation, we find Home pages without any of said before labeled “Dashboard”. A dashboard can be a homepage but a homepage isn’t necessarily a dashboard.
    The Homepage it’s the first page you land in after signing to your App — it should have a good purpose and be the gateway to site’s content and functionality. It dishes out the first taste of what the site offers.
    A Dashboard is only a dashboard if it tells you relevant statistics and other information relevant to your role.
  2. Determining the dashboard goals is your way to score!
    When planing a dashboard, work closely with the business and the users to find the relevant data that will enhance their performance and help them take actions. You’ll get these by understanding the business and interacting with the users, try doing user interviews.
    If you don’t have goals and clearly defined metrics for your project, program or department, a dashboard is not going to help. After listing all the relevant data, you then have to determine the most effective visualisations.
  3. Translate goals into effective pieces of visualisation
    Choose the right graphical representation. Often using charts is the way to go but, you should first understand the reasons why you might need a chart. You can find several articles around this subject, such as this article.
  4. Select and prioritise information and scale data sections accordingly
    After you get all relevant metrics it’s important that you spend sometime more time together with the business and the users to analyse those, prioritise, and group them together — for different purposes use different dashboards. Do not over

I hope you find this article nice and helpful. Always remember, a dashboard should be simple enough to clearly tell a story full of meaning.

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About me:

I’m Margarida da Marça, a Senior User Experience Designer at OutSystems and a Service Innovation and Design MBA student at Laurea. I live between Helsinki and Lisbon and work with a bunch of amazing clients and partners worldwide.

Design Practise and Team Lead at OutSystems Finland