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Posted on 02.23.2016

Tips for Creating Effective Dashboards

In today’s short attention span culture, more and more organizations choose to ditch their text-heavy reports in favor of visually appealing dashboards for showcasing their data. Dashboards can help you highlight the most pertinent information and make it easier and more efficient for users to digest. While you may not want to eliminate full-scale reports completely, incorporating dashboards into your reporting routine can help generate greater interest and engagement with your data.

Here are some tips for creating an engaging and effective dashboard.

  1. Don’t go overboard on design. When you are creating a dashboard it can be easy to go over the top with color blocking or graphic creation. Remember not to use too many colors when creating your dashboard because they could distract from the actual data presented. When selecting colors, consider soothing colors or colors that make sense with the information being presented. For example, you might consider using the company logo colors for graphs showing website traffic over time. Select two or three main colors and work with those (or shades of those) throughout the dashboard.
  2. Make sure it is easy to use. A dashboard is useless if the information it presents is not helpful to the reader. Consider what information needs to be conveyed in the dashboard, and select a graphic representation that easily accomplishes this goal. While it might seem fun to use smiley face emojis to populate a bar graph showing social media engagement, the emojis could distract from the information you are trying to present.
  3. Ensure you can update it regularly. What’s the use of a dashboard that is not easy to update? Dashboards are meant to change as new information becomes available. If the design of the dashboard is too intricate to update, consider sticking to something simpler that can track change over time.

Dashboards are not right for every audience or every project, but they can help certain data sets become easier to comprehend. Some audiences will prefer a regular text report or excel spreadsheet to a visual dashboard, so it is important to understand your audience before deciding on the best way to present your data. Think about the type of data you regularly report and how your audience might benefit from a more visual representation. Testing out a dashboard the next time you need to do a progress report might be the solution to revamping your reporting process.

Kristy Lucero is an Account Executive at Lovell Communications. Connect with Kristy at Kristy@lovell.com or @kristylucero. 

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