Save Yourself from Dashboard Disaster: Ask These Questions


Your data should be presented much the same way you would present yourself in a job interview; professional, put together, well groomed, and suitable to the task at hand.

Just as you would prepare for an interview by asking questions, here are some questions you should ask yourself before you make your dashboard “public”.


1. "Is the dashboard displaying the appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) for the target users?" Ensure you are visualizing the right information for the dashboard users.

2. "Are the key performance indicators presented in the most effective possible format?" Could another visual make it easier/faster for the viewer to understand what is happening? Would another visualization take up less space on the dashboard? Display your data in the most effective/efficient way possible.

3. "Are the colors being used friendly to those who are colorblind?" Do they distract the viewer, or do they draw attention to the most relevant or critical information?

4. "Can I see all of the necessary information on a single screen?" Your answer should be yes.

5. "Do added elements (drill through, hover-over, etc.) enhance the dashboard by providing valuable context, or are they just filler?" Filler = killer.

6. "Does the dashboard offer the means (drill through, link to a report, etc.) to receive extra information in order to take action when warranted?" Good dashboards display data in the most efficient/effective way possible. Great dashboards also provide you with, or point you to, resources that give you the ability to take action.

7. "Is the data being represented accurately?" Ensure you are not distorting the data.

8. "Where is my eye drawn to when I open the dashboard?" If it isn’t to areas that require action (if no such area exists ignore this questions) then something is awry. When you first look at a dashboard your eyes should be drawn to the most important area of the dashboard. This could be specific metrics that require attention (e.g. poor performance) or the most vital key performance indicator.

9. "Have I tested everything?" Test, test, test! If you have interactive elements, make sure you have gone through all of them to ensure that nothing is broken. If your dashboard is web based, test it on different browsers. If it can be viewed from mobile devices, use multiple devices when testing.


Are there any other questions you ask yourself before publishing a dashboard? Let us know in the comments section.