Best practices for dashboard design

Our dashboard design process to creating beautiful and functional dashboards

UX Design, Dashboard, Summary, Overview

Our best practices for dashboard design

Introduction

Dashboards, they can be one of the most important parts of any web or mobile app. I bet we’ve all dreamt of an informative, glanceable interface that’s simple to look at, yet provides enough information to keep you engaged? Well we have anyway!

The word “Dashboard” originally comes from the dashboard of a car which provides the driver with essential information such as speed, gas levels, heat and warning etc. Basically, everything that the driver needs to know in order to safely operate a car.

8 Designing Tips for Your Dashboard

Before designing your own dashboard, try these 8 recommendations to make your life easier for your users.

1. Provide relevant data for your user

Think of a car dashboard, it shows what the user needs to know while driving. You have to figure out what information that your user will always need to see quickly without distractions. It will save users time from digging too deep intomenus.

2. Clearly separate data

Try to use a separate card or section for each data point that you want your users to see. Your user won’t have a hard time telling each data apart.

3. Use BIG key data

If it’s an important number, make it big so yours won’t miss it. For an even better experience, add visual context to your data such as colors and icons to represent if it’s good or bad, increased or decreased. This matters to users who frequently consume large amounts of data.

4. Use layout patterns

There are two popular patterns, F and Z patterns. This is the direction our eyes like to naturally scan when consuming data. It’s good to think of storytelling when using these patterns, what data do they need first, and what will come after? You can utilize a grid layout system to organize nice F or Z patterns.

5. Use white space for readability

The more information you give your user on a dashboard the harder it will be to understand. We’ve probably all experienced cognitive overload at some point, when there’s too much to look at on a screen. White space gives users ‘visual breathing room’ and a nice pause between each piece of content.

6. Don’t hide what’s important

 If there’s something your user needs to know, highlight it to them. Dashboards are supposed to be efficient in communicating important information and actionable items. Make sure anything that’s a ‘to do’ is clearly visible and linked to that task if possible.

7. Use the 5-second rule

  If your user can’t find the information they’re looking for in 5 seconds, then forget it.

8. Design your dashboard at the end

The last recommendation I can give you is to design your dashboard last! Why?

Because until you know how all the individual features operate, how do you know what’s most important to the user? Design your dashboard at the end, when you understand what’s most important for a user to see at a glance.

Conclusion

Dashboard design has to be relevant for users looking for an overview of a system. It’s often the first screen users will see, and for some the only screen they will ever need! Your users might not notice when you get it right, but they will certainly notice when you get it wrong!

Written By

Tul Pannengpet, Senior UX Designer @ Seven Peaks Software

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