Dashboards and Data Viz

Storyboarding, a term borrowed from the animation world, involves the design of a “sequence of scenes or events” by drawing out snapshots in time. In the case of animation, the animated movie is the sequence of scenes. In the case of dashboards, the many different ways in which a user can interact with the dashboard constitutes the sequence of events. This user interaction can take the form of drilldowns, pivots, input parameters, chart ‘Interactive Intelligence’, chart customization, etc. The dashboard storyboarding process also involves core design decisions such as which metrics to display, the proper charts to display them and the color scheme to use.

It is human nature to jump right into a project without spending the necessary preparation time to ensure success. They say that 80% of the effort painting a room is preparation (laying the tarps, cleaning the walls, taping the trim, etc.). This is also the case when developing dashboards. If you don’t properly storyboard the dashboards you hope to create and instead simply start clicking away in the dashboard software, you will inevitably run into road blocks and discover that the way you are building the dashboard will not work. You would then have to backtrack and try again. This process could repeat itself many times over.

By gathering the dashboard stakeholders and sitting in front of a whiteboard, you can map out the dashboard design and sequence of events the user will experience. If done properly, when the time comes to build the dashboards in the dashboard application, you will have a clear set of “instructions” for how to proceed. This should be the easiest (and most fun!) part of the dashboard project.

In an upcoming blog post I will outline the steps for storyboarding a dashboard. Start laying out the tarps!

Trip Dixon, iDashboards


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