An alarming trend in the dashboarding world is a tragedy that is easily avoided. Every day, users are creating dashboards that are tragically ugly. This ranges from things like using charts not suited for the data to horrendous color choices. It may be best to consult with your Marketing team about what company-approved colors will work. In Marketing, you should find a team of people ready to hand you the hex values of your company colors. Don’t forget, that you can edit the colors of a chart in a lot of places.
Remember to keep user acceptance in mind as you construct your dashboard. Sure, you may have the most practical charts available. You may have good metrics but when a user sees the dashboard, will it sing to their eyes? Will they fall in love with what you’ve presented? Or will the colors not pop, look flat & be generally sad?
Consider the following 2 charts:
These 2 charts use EXACTLY the same data, convey the EXACT same metrics but which one looks more effective? Considering this, which one do you think will get accepted more easily by the end users?
Always remember, there is a definite psychological approach to dashboard construction. Keep your end user in mind & put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself; will they prefer aesthetics over function? Do they enjoy looking at pretty colors instead of thinking about what those colors mean? Should you include large format company logos?
Avoid the trap of getting hung up on one type of chart. For example, the manufacturing vertical often has data that lends itself well to bar & column charts. Many times dashboard developers will stick with these two staples of the industry. Instead of a column chart, why not go with an area chart, especially if you are representing trending information?
Don’t forget little basics, like matching colors on all charts, getting font sizes the same across a dashboard & removing mouse-over values if you’re using column labels. A little attention-to-detail can go a long way.
Matt Crawford– Technical Consultant, iDashboards