When designing dashboards our go to solution is Microsoft Power BI. Power BI dashboards provide a 360-degree view for business users displaying the most important metrics in one place, updating in real time, available across all of their devices. With one click, users can explore the data behind their dashboard using intuitive tools that make finding answers easy.

In this article we discuss some of our top tips for designing beautiful dashboards.

Know your Audience

The best way to design an effective dashboard is to know who you are designing it for!

Is the audience for your dashboard a small group of managers or a global performance dashboard to a thousand employees? These will result in two completely different dashboard designs.

Let’s think about that management level dashboard for a handful of users. We need to portray topline information, namely figures and performance against measures like budget as quickly as possible. We would want to portray KPI’s and financial measures in a concise manner with time slices where relevant. We would want this to be a clean design with on one-page to allow managers to be able to pull up the dashboard and make data driven decisions during their many meetings.

For a global performance dashboard, we would want to ensure that we make the most meaningful use of the data at hand by engaging our audience with universal signifiers like colour, placement and icons. The focus is on making the data as simple to understand as possible. Colour is a great way of doing this but with such wide usership, take into consideration using a colour palette suitable for users with colour-vision deficiency. Power BI offers a colour-vision deficient palette as part of the default suite.

Branding

Dashboards should be branded to the business that is consuming them. Most businesses will have a colour palette, chosen stock images, company logos etc already available from the marketing department. Use these colour palettes and logos to brand your dashboards from internal use. It helps fit the business, improve adoption and present a unified front to customers.

With Power BI, templates can be created for use within the organisation to ensure this consistent approach to dashboards and reporting.

Consistency

Consistency is key to a readable, intuitive and effective dashboard. Ensure that your font is uniform, that your heading size is consistent, that the same colour palette is used across reports/tabs. If you use a card to display a KPI, use a card for every KPI, don’t switch to a KPI widget for the last one. This will make for a simpler design for your developer, a slicker look and ultimately more fans in the business using your dashboard to make data driven decisions.

 Balance

Balance the weight of visualisations across the entire canvas available to you. Don’t place all of your heavy weighted line charts and bar charts on one side of the canvas, balance the weight of graphics on the page to make a more readable experience for your end user. The combination of colour and white space should be fairly consistent throughout the dashboard.

Visualisations

We could talk forever about visualisations, however, this is a blog post and not a book!*

Visualisations can be revolutionary to your business reporting, if you use them correctly. Many businesses still troll through rows and rows of grid data because they can see the numbers, see the working. However, that takes time and skill. Modern BI allows us to tell a story with our business data, to represent performance with instantly understandable visual representations of our data.

Power BI offers a wide range of out of the box visualisations and you can download more from AppSource, here are some examples:

  • Comparison – Clustered/Stacked Bar Chart, Gauge, Ribbon Chart, Matrix/Table
  • Change Over Time – Line Chart, Ribbon Chart, KPI, Line & Stacked Bar Chart, Waterfall Chart, Area Chart
  • Ranking – Clustered Column Chart, Matrix/Table, Bullet Chart
  • Spatial – Map (Power BI contains 4 Map types out of the box)
  • Flow – Waterfall Chart, Funnel, Sankey Chart, Network Chart
  • Part-To-Whole – Treemap, Clustered/Stacked Bar Chart, Line & Clustered Column Chart, Stacked Area
  • Distribution – Line chart, Histogram, Tornado Chart
  • Correlation – Scatter Chart, Line & Clustered Column Chart, Clustering
  • Single – Card, KPI, Multiline Card, Table/Matrix, Gauge
  • Filter – Slicer, Chicklet Slicer, Play Axis

Comparison – Flow – Ranking                                 

 

Part to Whole – Comparison

Comparison – Part to Whole – Correlation

Correlation – Part to Whole – Comparison

Single

 

If you would like to understand more about how Power BI could benefit your organisation then please contact us to arrange a free demo.

 

This dashboard below includes a range of visualisations, a consistent approach and tracks DC Universe trends over time.