Want to build a dashboard? Draw it first!

mei 5, 2023
Author: Viola Neumann
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You know the drill: business wants a new dashboard. The data team knows the wishes of the business team and is happy to dive in. Data sharing implemented, sources connected – time to build the dashboard. Of course, with the best intentions to deliver a working dashboard as soon as possible, because business needs it yesterday!

But more often than not, the dashboard turns out not to provide the type of insights to really make a difference, like everyone had hoped. Be honest: how many dashboards does your organization have that, at a single glance, provide insights that lead to immediate action?

This pitfall can be prevented by adding one essential step: drawing the dashboard design. Make sure that both the developers and the end users of the dashboard always – ALWAYS – first draw the design for the dashboard together.

Always start by drawing…

… even if the developers already understand the needs of the business
… even if the dashboard is only super small and trivial
… even if the deadline for the dashboard was yesterday
… even if nobody has time for a design session
… even if the end users have already supplied a list of KPIs

This last objection is one we hear particularly often – because in that case, it’s already clear what the end users want, right?! But equating a list of KPIs to a dashboard design is like saying that smelling a delicious dish is the same as tasting it. The real power of a good dashboard is in the countless small decisions that may seem insignificant, but actually make the difference between an extremely actionable dashboard and one that end users just don’t use.

The real power of a good dashboard is in countless small decisions

Viola Neumann

Data Strategist

Feeling inspired? Time to get to work!

The nice thing is that drawing up a dashboard design doesn’t need to be complicated or pompous at all. It’s so accessible you can start with it today. Gather the developers and end users, bring enough blank paper and markers, and start by each sketching your own ideas of what the dashboard should look like. Share your ideas, challenge each other (“what do you want to do with this insight?”), and combine the best ideas into a single design.

Have you lost the forest for the trees of dashboards?

Viola Neumann
Data Strategist
+31 6 573 959 14
Have you lost the forest for the trees of dashboards?


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