10 Best Practice Tips for Building Effective Dashboards

Follow these 10 best practises to get the most from your dashboards!

10 Best Practice Tips for Building Effective Dashboards

Use the top tips below to design a dashboard that appeals to your consumers and turns your data into actionable insights.

The most noticeable component of a self-service analytics (SSA) suite is a dashboard, which serves as the user's public-facing portal for accessing and analysing their data. However, a lot of dashboards' displays are ill-designed, which makes it difficult for them to attract users and influence business decisions. A dashboard may seem stunning and have appealing colours and data visualizations, but it may not actually offer any insightful information.

Although there are many dashboard templates available, it is preferable to create your own format if you have certain tracking and reporting requirements. You can create a powerful dashboard that assists your users in driving business growth if you understand a few fundamental concepts about visual perception and data management.

Tip 1: Know Your Users

Engage your potential consumers during a planning phase before you even start building your dashboard. Learn more about the metrics they monitor, the amount of data they wish to query, and the frequency at which they need to obtain fresh data. People will only interact with a dashboard, like any other product, if it helps them with an issue, thus it's important to first understand their wants and objectives. This user feedback can help shape your dashboard's "blueprint" and encourage a higher adoption rate.

Tip 2: Be Clear and Concise

Maintain consistency and simplicity in your dashboard design. Applying the same data visualization several times is OK as long as it serves the information you need to express. In order to avoid unduly grabbing your users' attention and leading them to look for meaning that isn't there, the colour contrasts must also have a function.

Your users will become accustomed to your visual style, making it easier for them to absorb information and recognise changes. Never succumb to the temptation to entice them with a variety of data visualizations and colours. If you do, you are more likely to alienate your users than to impress them.

Tip 3: Master the Aesthetics

You may create a dashboard that effectively informs your consumers if you keep the following UX standards in mind.

The upper left corner of the screen is where most users begin reading sites, making it ideal real estate for any analytics you want viewers to concentrate on.

People often assume that information is less significant than what they can see right away if they have to scroll to view it. Because of this, your dashboard should be created with a minimum number of pages. If you see that additional metrics are appearing below the fold of a page, they could be better off in a different dashboard.

According to Miller's law, the average person can only hold about seven items in their short-term memory. This implies that you shouldn't expose your users to more than nine menu filters when it comes to dashboards. Anything more than that might be too much for them, which might result in overselection or analytical paralysis.

Tip 4: (Screen) Size Matters

You should consult your users on the kind of screen they plan to use to view the dashboard during the planning stage. Will it be a tablet, a smartphone, or all of the above? You must make the dashboard responsive if users need to access it from various devices. Or, they could just want to display the dashboard on a sizable monitor in their office, in which case you should omit interactive elements like menu filters. Screens play a big role in dashboard design, therefore you should constantly take them into consideration.

Tip 5: Less is More

A dashboard should be a well-organized summary that enables consumers to swiftly assimilate information, not a lengthy report. Your performance evaluation must have a clear goal and be as thorough as is practical. Because they provide a comprehensive summary of whole data sets as a single number, metrics like totals, averages, and rates are always useful.

Tip 6: Know and Optimize Your Data

One element of an SSA suite is a dashboard, which simply offers a user-friendly way to obtain data from a data source. Therefore, the data source is typically to blame if a dashboard refreshes slowly or rarely.

After investigating the requirements of your consumers, improve the data source to avoid any performance problems. Make sure your data storage can be handled by the dashboard platform. Run a few queries to see how quickly they respond; if they take a while, you might need to re-arrange the data. Similar to creating the foundation for a house, a data source that is optimised will result in a dashboard that is more stable.

Tip 7: Context is Key

A dashboard that has context can quickly convey whether your activity is trending positively or badly. For instance, a dashboard might show $64.2K in sales income for the current quarter, but what does that actually mean to a user? The figure by itself says nothing about how well their company is doing. How near to their goal are they currently? How does it compare to how they performed in a prior timeframe? Some components, such as goal lines and comparison values, can provide insightful perspective and respond to this kind of query.

Tip 8: Labels, Labels, Labels

Everything on your dashboard needs to be labelled since without knowing what they're looking at, your users won't be able to process any information. Name your measurements clearly, and give each data visualization a title. Give legends for your diagrams that describe the meaning of any colours or symbols.

Every label must be readable in addition to being descriptive and cohesive. Because of this, your dashboard should always utilise a sans-serif font. Sans-serif fonts lack the ornate edges that serif fonts have around their characters. This improves their legibility on digital displays, especially those with poor resolution.

Tip 9: Make it Sustainable

The creation of a dashboard is an iterative process. After the planning stage, you should keep communicating with your users, much like while testing your data source. An ongoing conversation will keep you updated on their changing tracking requirements and aid in the improvement of dashboard features. Before you know it, you might be connecting to brand-new data sources or building entirely new dashboards!

Even while change is unavoidable, there are a few things you can do to speed up your development in the future. Though they may take some time to create, common naming conventions and formulas can ultimately save a tonne of work. Programming clean, well-structured code is always worth the extra time and effort, at the very least. Hasty coding is more susceptible to technical debt, which will make your work more difficult in the future. It is also tougher to debug.

Tip 10: Put it to the Test

The phrase "garbage in, garbage out" (also known as GIGO) relates to the idea that an incorrect input will result in an incorrect output. It's a computer science maxim that has a lot to do with creating dashboards. Every user who accesses and uses a dashboard anticipates seeing a precise picture of what is happening. However, a dashboard eventually provides data from a data source... and the outcomes of your dashboard are flawed if your data source is flawed.

A dashboard that frequently makes mistakes might hinder user adoption and damage customers' faith in your brand. As a result, you should regularly check the accuracy of your data source. Not just during planning, but also while users are utilising your dashboard. Since new bugs might appear at any time, it's essential to frequently monitor your activities and catch any issues early on.


Whether you’re building your dashboard from scratch or using a BI tool (like Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, Klipfolio, Google Data Studio, Grow, Looker, Yellowfin, or Sisense), you may run into some limitations that prevent you from applying all of these principles. Perhaps your selected dashboard platform does not support custom labeling or comparison values. As a result, your development may involve some trial and error; you may need time to figure out how to work within the boundaries of your dashboard platform and leverage every feature to its fullest extent.

All things considered, you will always be free to choose how to curate your content, so keep in mind that simplicity is crucial. Your users will be able to swiftly update their awareness and work more productively when you narrow down the information on your dashboard to the most important details.