For a lot of people, business intelligence = dashboards. Since they’re so relied upon to present at-a-glance views of KPIs and to guide decision-making for business leaders, it’s critical that dashboards are well-formatted, easy to read and simple to navigate. Let’s explore the dashboard design trends that resonate with today’s executives.
1) Flat UI will continue to grow
In 2014 clean beats clutter. Users are drawn to crisp, clean interfaces, often with tile-based layouts. Windows 8 was influential in creating this flat design and Apple followed suit with iOS 7. Business leaders can quickly access and interpret data when information is presented in an uncluttered interface.
2) Mobile First
You don’t have to look at the expiration on your milk carton to know that it has soured – it usually gives you some pretty strong clues, like smell, discoloration, or a strange consistency. In the same way, you probably have an idea that your BI dashboard has gone bad – clutter and unreadable graphs are sure signs that it’s time for a refresh. Other clues are less obvious, like maybe your role has changed but your dashboard hasn’t changed along with it. Let’s dive into these clues and see if you can relate to any of them:
1. Your dashboard is too busy. The biggest limitation of dashboards is the physical size of your screen. When your dashboard was created, did it take this into account? Are all of your metrics on one screen, which forces you to do a whole lot of scrolling? A dashboard should not require the user to scroll left, right, up or down to see the entire screen. Try a creative way of accessing additional information, like implementing tabs or hierarchies to drill down into more detailed information.
2. Flashing lights and pretty pictures. Does your dashboard look like a fireworks display on the 4th of July? Certainly your dashboard needs to be attractive, but you can display a whole lot of nothing through the inappropriate use of graphs and graphics. Dashboards should be analytical tools, not just pretty pictures. They need to provide business value, which can be achieved through simple charts (read: not 3D) and appropriate animation, keeping the flash to a minimum. Here’s a tip: if you’re using stoplight indicators, think about making stoplight symbols a standard in your organization. That way, employees who are colorblind can still get value from your indicators.
3. Lack of a role-based view.