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10 Best Practices for Dashboard Design

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Simply having a performance dashboard is not enough if you want to better your performance. More crucially, you need to make sure that your dashboard is structured and designed effectively. 

However, before we go any further you may be wondering what is the main purpose of a dashboard? The main purpose of a dashboard is to display the KPIs relevant to your team or operations, centralize your data as well as inform and motivate your team. Achieving these objectives is tricky if your team doesn’t see value in your dashboards. Scratching your head when it comes to dashboard design? No worries, we're on hand with 10 dashboard design best practices that will revolutionize how you stay on top of your data.

1. Less is more!

Almost everybody would agree that they gain a better understanding when looking at something well-organized and minimalistic rather than overcrowded and scattered. So keep that in mind when creating your dashboards - it’s best that your dashboards paint a clear picture of what needs to be achieved. A best practice for dashboard design is to display 3-5 KPIs per dashboard and to display the most important KPIs.

2. KPIs you need to include in your dashboard

If you are wondering how not to overcrowd your dashboard when you find everything useful, then this practice might be a solution to your problem. As you already know, you should focus on quality over quantity when it comes to KPIs. If you’re still struggling, then try to include KPIs from the following categories:

  • Activity KPI is the type of KPI that measures the total number of finished activities in a specific time ➡️for example the number of calls, and number of meetings,...➡️ helps you identify the leading indicators 
  • Quality KPI is the type of KPI that measures the quality of your business performance  ➡️ for example, win rate, and net promoter score,... 
  • Result KPI is the type of KPI that measures your final result meeting the pre-defined goal ➡️ for example, deals won vs target, meetings booked vs target,... ➡️ helps you identify lacking indicators
Dashboards discussion

3. If in doubt, leave it out

You might have some extra space left on your dashboard, but rather than adding new widgets, make existing ones bigger. If the KPI that you want to showcase is not something that is crucial to your operations, then leave it out. Remember you want your team to focus only on strategically significant KPIs that they are able to take action on.

4. Think before making a new KPI

You will likely have a lot of data, however not all data requires a KPI. A good tip to follow when in doubt is to know when that data is brought up in meetings or discussions. If it is rarely mentioned, then there is no need for that KPI.

5. Use colors 

Adding colors to your widgets and dashboards doesn’t only make them visually appealing but also makes your team understand their performance. In fact, studies show that colors enhance a person’s visual memory. On a Plecto dashboard, you can add 3 different colors: red, yellow, and green. This enables you to show different stages of reaching a goal: red when you are off target, yellow for when you still have work to do, and green for when you are on track to reaching your goal!

Dashboards on all screens

6. Use dynamic targets 

Want to set ambitious targets but not too big that they demotivate your team? Using dynamic targets may be just what you are looking for. At Plecto, dynamic targets are a target that is based on a calculation that updates whenever there is new data. It is useful for telling you how far away you are from reaching your goal.

For example, picture that you have a goal of reaching 75k in sales by the end of the month. Let’s say that after two weeks you have generated 40k in sales. Here, while you are on track, you are still quite a way off from achieving your target and your KPI will display in red. If this is the case, it is likely to have a negative impact on your team’s motivation. 

In contrast, a dynamic target motivates your team by showing them they are on the right track to reaching the goal, even if they are still a way off in real terms. By using dynamic targets, a widget changes color based on how far away you are from your goal. If you are far away from it, it will be red and once you get on track it will turn green. 

Static vs. Dynamic targets

7. Make sure to showcase your forecasts 

One way of making sure that your team reaches a goal is by using a forecast. Display a forecast that is based on current performance that will show how close your team is to reaching a goal. By doing so your team will have enough time to react and make a positive change 

8. Keep tables to minimum 

Using tables is an easy and practical way to display your data. That being said, try to stick to only having one on your dashboard. A table widget requires a lot of space in order to be able to see everything properly, so we recommend that it takes half of a dashboard or a whole dashboard. 

9. Keep it simple!

It can be tempting to use different and complicated widgets/charts in order for your dashboard to look more sophisticated. However, keep in mind that you are creating them for people, not robots, and that their purpose is to clearly and efficiently present your data. So use charts that are known for being understood by most people and don’t overcomplicate things, just keep it simple.

10. Show importance by using size and position on your dashboard 

If you followed our advice you put only strategically important KPIs on your dashboards, but still even within your key KPIs, some are more critical than others. In order to show that some KPIs need to be constantly monitored or that they are extremely important use sizing and positioning. Make the most important KPIs bigger than others so that they are noticed first. When it comes to positioning, put the most essential KPI on the top left corner of your dashboard.

Make your perfect dashboard with Plecto!

Performance dashboards are not only to make a TV in your office look pretty but - as the name implies -  to actually improve your performance. With Plecto, you can even add gamification to your dashboards to bring your KPIs to life and motivate your employees.

Still not convinced about performance dashboards? Well then sign up for a 14-day free trial and see how Plecto’s custom dashboard software can make you a more successful and data-driven organization!


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