As businesses have become increasingly data-driven, communicating information through a visual format will help teams better analyze data, leading to more informed decision-making. Usability.gov explains how studying the basics of UI design entails exploring concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture to improve communication. For business dashboards, a good UI is especially crucial because it enables users to quickly absorb key information from a variety of data sources. Studying the visual factors behind an effective dashboard design will help businesses present impactful key performance indicators clearly.
Figure out the purpose of the dashboard
First, the design rules of your dashboard should be adapted to the specific purpose it’s meant to serve. Two popular types of dashboards are categorized by UX Planet as either operational or analytical. For operational dashboards, the priority is to provide the user with real-time critical information, including current resources and any data deviations. On the other hand, analytical dashboards are designed to inspire deeper insights to be used for analysis and future decision-making purposes. Ensuring that only the relevant metrics are being shown on your preferred type of dashboard will speed up efficiency and limit confusion.
Decide on the right visualization type for the data
Selecting widget types can sometimes be a confusing process. Some options offered by Bold BI include bar charts, column charts, pie charts, line charts, and funnel charts, which have different strengths and specifications. To make the most of your dashboard, it’s helpful to have a deeper understanding of how these chart types work. Generally, line charts are better for displaying changes over time. In contrast, bar charts are better for relatively static values. With a line graph, try and limit your chart to a maximum of five values while limiting your bar chart to a maximum of seven. This way, it’s easier to intuitively understand the information being presented.
Use an intuitive layout for a strong visual flow
Psychologically speaking, our eyes tend to prioritize information based on its location and size. In general, Usability Geek recommends placing important information at the center of the dashboard, or in the top-left area. Secondary information should be placed at the top-right or bottom-left, while the least important information should be located at the bottom-right of the dashboard. Based on our eye patterns, thinking about which metrics deserve the most attention will provide users with an optimal experience. Creating a natural flow and movement of data will help prevent back-and-forth eye movements that can be draining in the long run. To help you out, Bold BI offers 12 different built-in templates to customize your personal dashboard.
Group related areas of data and be consistent
It may sound simple, but viewers tend to associate items that are physically located next to each other, compared to items that are far apart. When you’re planning your dashboard, physically grouping similar KPIs together should be a top priority. In addition, items that have similar colors, shapes, orientation, and size are also perceived as belonging to the same group, according to design principles. Being conscious of this can help you create contrasts or draw connections between elements on your dashboard. In terms of consistency, naming each data group with the same format can make it easier to use these tools. This makes it easier to convey information in a quick glance.
Be mindful of the colors you use
Working with color can be a double-edged tool. Using too little color will make your dashboard one-dimensional and bland. On the other hand, using a combination of vivid colors can make your dashboard overly chaotic and cloud your vision. Because of this, using color in an appropriate way can make it easier for users to identify any clear patterns and emerging trends. Being considerate of those who have difficulties with color vision is also a good idea. This means avoiding certain hues such as reddish-green and yellowish-blue. In general, abiding by the 60–30–10 rule can help you create a well-balanced color palette. As a guideline, 60 percent of the dashboard should be dedicated to a neutral color, 30 percent for a complementary shade, and 10 percent should be allocated as an accent.
When it comes to designing your dashboard, having some knowledge of basic design principles can go a long way towards improving and developing your UI. Ensuring that it’s user-friendly and comprehensive means prioritizing simplicity, choosing colors wisely, and making proper use of charts. The effective use of visual hierarchy, consistency with labels and color, and avoiding the overuse of real-time data will help create a sense of balance. To help you on your journey, our application has compatibility with 120+ data sources and has access to 30+ widgets, which can contribute to the development of actionable insights for your business. Hassle-free refresh, easy data modeling, and future data predictions are some of the features that will help pave your way to success.