The current development trend of big data is becoming more and more prosperous, and more and more companies choose to embrace data science. Large-screen data visualization has become an interactive display method accepted by many people. So how to design a dashboard for decision-making?

Strategic Dashboard (FineReport)

For the dashboard, if you want a perfect presentation, you need the technicians, UI designers, and business people to coordinate the work. But for newbies, how do we design dashboards on our own? This post will give you a definitive guide to creating a dashboard by yourself, which will be very helpful for every learner!



How to design a Dashboard?

There are a set of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the dashboard. You need to keep these criteria in mind when you are creating a dashboard.

  • Is the information presented clearly and focused?
  • Is the choice of graphics appropriate?
  • Is the overall visual style of the dashboard consistent?
  • Is the information presented adequately?
  • Does it effectively show the relationship between the data? Such as trends, comparisons, etc.
  • Can the dashboard be fully displayed on one screen?
  • Can the dashboard adapt to scale of devices?

According to the above scoring criteria, we can find that the most important thing about the dashboard is to comprehensively display information with appropriate icons, and it has a clear organization and high readability.



1. Targeted audience

Knowing the user helps to master how to organize the displayed KPIs and data. In most cases, the dashboard is for the overall management, so it shows more indicators at the operational level or strategic level.



2. Design typesetting or layout of dashboard

People are used to reading from top to bottom, and the middle position is the most attractive, so important content, primary information, should be placed at the top or middle. As shown below, I share some popular typesetting. The overall indicators are clear at a glance, allowing readers to grasp the general data in a matter of seconds. It is a way of reading reports with a high input-to-output ratio of time.

how to create a dashboard layout
Typysetting & Layout


3. Background

If the background color is dark, the effect is better when the dashboard is placed on a large screen. At the same time, in order to display the content more clearly, the color contrast between the text and the background should be large, which means the text color is mostly light.

how to create a dashboard
Dark-background dashboard (FineReport)


4. Set a dashboard color schemes

Many professional dashboard software will prepare some color schemes for users. For example, FineReport has built-in many beautiful color schemes.

How to create a dashboard? Set up your style
Use color scheme for dashboard design
How to create a dashboard? Set up your style
Use color scheme for dashboard design

The specific RGB values can be obtained through the color-picking software. There are various resources on the Internet.



5. Graphics

By using graphical techniques such as ECharts, D3.js, and Highcharts, it is possible to make the original static charts like histograms and line charts to more clearly display the data in front of the user.

Data relationExample scenarioApplicable chart types
CompareCompare the sales of different productsColumn chart/bubble chart/stacked area chart/rectangular tree diagram/radar chart/word cloud
DistributionRelationship between employee education and salaryScatter plot/distribution chart/bubble chart
MapNumber of users in stores across the countryHeat Maps
ProportionThe proportion of a product in total salesDoughnut chart/pie chart/stacked column chart/rectangular tree diagram
SectionTarget sales achievementMeter diagram/stacked area drawing
TimeSales growth over timeLine chart/spiral chart/area chart
How to choose charts for dashboard?


6. Dynamic effects

The perfect dashboard has the characteristic of user interaction, and what are effects that can reflect user interaction?

Scrolling

Dashboard scrolling (FineReport)

Real-time display

Real time display dashboard (FineReport)

Linkage

Dashboard Linkage (FineReport)

Drilling

Dashboard drilling (FineReport)


7. Add details to the dashboard

7.1 Icons

Adding icons to the title, list and chart not only visually reflects the theme of a certain block but also has a good decorative effect. 

7.2 Border lines

The borderlines make the blocks obviously separated and make the data clearly presented.

7.3 Title 

The title makes the theme clear. Even if the blocks are clearly separated and there are many dynamic charts in a page, without the title, it will not be a successful dashboard, because the lack of title will reduce the readability.

I hope that the above summary can help you in layout, color matching, interaction, etc., so that you can make a relatively high-quality dashboard that can surprise your leaders. Besides, you can also refer to the dashboard pictures on the Internet, starting with imitation. I think that design is to constantly accumulate and slowly find your own way.



8. Production and debugging of dashboard template

During the production process, you need to constantly preview the report and adjust the visual effects of the report, including key visual elements, font size, page dynamics, etc. It is necessary to check whether the graphs and charts are displayed as expected, whether they are distorted or misplaced, and if there are errors, they must be fixed in time.



Conclusion

The post introduces several keys to making dashboards. The software I use is FineReport. This software also has many built-in templates, which can be directly applied. Welcome to download the free version!

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