Designing A Dashboard

Dashboard designing

Dashboard designing utilize data visualization techniques to present data-based intelligence distinctively and potently. They display relevant, actionable data and track stats and key performance indicators (KPIs). To enable quick comprehension, the dashboard layout should be designed in a format that is easy to scan and displays the most relevant information at a glance.

In dashboard designing , a crucial aspect is to adopt an appropriate approach to data visualization. Data visualization is the representation of data through pictures and graphics, with the primary aim of assisting decision makers in identifying patterns or comprehending complex concepts that may be overlooked in text-based applications. It lays the foundation for effective dashboard design.

Essential Traits of Excellent Dashboards

A proficient dashboard presents actionable and valuable information in a quick and easy-to-understand format. It streamlines the visual depiction of intricate data, facilitating stakeholders to comprehend, analyze, and communicate significant insights.

Clear, intuitive, and customizable dashboards are great.

  • Communicate information quickly.
  • Display information clearly and efficiently.
  • Show trends and changes in data over time.
  • Easily customizable.
  • Effectively present the most important widgets and data components in a limited space.

Excellent dashboards make all information available within one click.

  • Essential information is readily available.
  • Data is prioritized.
  • Information is displayed in a clear visual hierarchy on a single screen.
  • The design provides a cohesive overview that presents concise initial data with options to drill down for more details.
  • Elements such as charts, tables, and forms are presented in a condensed view with the option to view additional details in a modal window or on a separate page.
  • The design enhances usability by providing filters that enable users to customize data display and filter content based on labels, categories, and KPIs.

Simplicity leads to clarity.

In today’s world, where we are inundated with data, presenting information that is easily comprehensible is one of the most challenging tasks. In designing dashboards, it is crucial to include only the most pertinent data, as an excessive amount of information can make it difficult for users to locate what they require.

When confronted with an overwhelming volume of data, designers should focus on displaying a select set of the most relevant information. We need to prioritize and cautiously eliminate metrics that are confusing or ambiguous.

Effective dashboard design decisions should be guided by:

  • The project goals
  • The nature of the data
  • The needs of users

The primary purpose of a dashboard is to simplify complex information, making it easily comprehensible. To achieve this, the interface that presents the data should be neat and simple, minimizing the cognitive load and the time users spend searching for the required information.

The information architecture should prioritize and present the most important data first, while providing access to supplementary or secondary metrics. An incremental drill-down system should be created that commences with a general overview and then delves deeper into the specifics, allowing for better data prioritization and a clearer presentation.

Establishing Dashboard Objectives and Presenting Relevant Data.

In the process of designing dashboards, proficient dashboard designers initiate by establishing a clearly defined set of goals that concentrate on the issue to resolve, as well as the crucial, practical insights that users must gather from the data.

Effective design goals foster efficient and accurate execution. Using the S.M.A.R.T framework for goal-setting emphasizes specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-based objectives.

Some crucial queries to consider while deciding on dashboard design objectives include:

  • How many steps are required for users to accomplish their objective?
  • Is the interface user-friendly enough for users to achieve their objective independently?
  • What information is necessary for users to successfully accomplish their objective?

To determine the goal of a particular dashboard design, frame it as a question: “What specific problem will this design solve for the user?” The answer will help identify the metrics, properties, values, visuals, and data that are essential.

Goal-oriented design is based on finding solutions to actual problems and serves as the basis for excellent dashboard design. Begin by comprehending business objectives, taking into account user objectives, and then communicate the critical information that needs to be conveyed.

Dashboard Design and the Importance of Context

  • Define user roles and understand their needs.
  • Identify overlaps and differences in user needs.
  • Effective communication is key to successful dashboard design.
  • Anticipate potential user scenarios for better understanding.
  • Consider users’ technical knowledge, familiarity with the system, goals, etc. when designing.

Consider the following questions to determine user behavior and context when designing a dashboard:

  • Does the design consider the user’s preferred reading direction?
  • Does interacting with the dashboard require technical knowledge?
  • Can users complete most actions with just a few clicks?
  • Does the design align with user context by providing drill-down menus, suggestive iconography, and appropriate color palettes?
  • Take into account the color palette used in the dashboard’s design, as it can impact user context. Dark-themed UIs are commonly used for business-to-business SaaS product dashboards that are used for extended periods of time.

Improving the process of Dashboard Designing through User Research

User research is a crucial step in achieving effective dashboard design, as it enables the presentation of relevant, clear, and concise data that allows users to focus on the content rather than the process of accessing it. The diverse needs of different user roles can also be addressed through user research, which helps uncover their goals, mental models, contextual factors, and pain points that inform the design of a dashboard that caters to their needs.

To design an effective dashboard, a designer should identify and understand different user types, their shared and unique goals, and the most actionable information for each type. Depending on the user needs, the designer should consider different layouts or a solution for a more general use case.

To achieve this, it’s advisable to begin with basic wireframes and then move on to prototypes that can be tested with real users during a user research phase. Valuable insights can be obtained from even a short user research phase involving just five users, saving a significant amount of time in the future.

The Concept of Progressive Disclosure in Dashboard Designing Process

Using progressive disclosure in dashboard design helps to create a user-friendly environment by reducing clutter and maintaining the user’s attention. By prioritizing user attention, it saves time and reduces error rates. This technique enables users to focus on the essential features they need and avoid irrelevant features, thereby improving efficiency and user understanding of the dashboard.

Animation is a versatile tool that serves multiple purposes and meets various user needs. It can be used to provide visual feedback while data and graphics are loading, and it can serve as a progressive disclosure technique to reveal information gradually.

Animation creates a sense of motion and progress, providing users with constant feedback and reducing uncertainty. By doing so, it enhances the perceived performance of the dashboard and helps improve the overall user experience.

Benefits of implementing progressive disclosure in dashboards:

  • Reducing user anxiety and uncertainty by displaying signs of progress that indicate everything is working correctly
  • Offering users something to view (partial display of data) instead of making them wait
  • Providing users with a clear expectation of the following steps and establishing an understanding of the hierarchical presentation of information

However, there may be some potential problems with progressive disclosure and data loading, such as:

  • Inappropriate use of indicators and disclosures can create distractions and work against usability principles.
  • Short loading times and useless steps should be avoided.
  • A lag in the retrieval of data without a clear indicator of progress can lead to user uncertainty and higher bounce rates.
  • Using static progress indicators is a solution with little meaning and does not offer enough information about progress.
  • This can also lead to user uncertainty and higher bounce rates.


  • Dashboards are useful for presenting data and information with user-centered design and proper data visualization.
  • To create outstanding designs, it’s important to empathize with user types and understand their goals.
  • Clear storytelling can be achieved with suggestive visuals, labels, progressive disclosure techniques, and animation.
  • User research techniques can make complex things easy.
  • Data and information should be revealed in a drill-down system at the appropriate time.
  • Data visualization can express information in a meaningful way.

Author's Bio

Sunil Vallala

UX/UI Designer with hands on experience in building ideas from scratch with the core belief that design is a catalyst for change in any business.

Razor sharp skills in executing a broad range of projects

Designing A Dashboard


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