Working as a Technical Consultant on the Professional Services team has afforded me the opportunity to see iDashboards implemented across many business verticals; everything from Mom & Pop startups to Fortune 500 companies. I have worked directly with a wide array of users; individuals that have dedicated their lives to data management, project managers whose job lies on the line with the successful implementation of our dashboarding software, people from the Greatest Generation that are new to working with computers. All of these individuals learned to work with iDashboards. All of them have been successful at implementing a dashboard solution. However, each of them shares a common experience: the fear of messing something up within the iDashboards software. This is great news to me. This means that they care enough, that they are invested enough, to not want to sully their hard work. Nothing makes a project more successful than buy-in and investment from the person running said project. Fortunately, their fears are easily assuaged. iDashboards has a simple method for avoiding trashing your beautifully built charts and dashboards: the “Save Chart As…” and “Save Dashboard As…” options. This means you are free to experiment with the looks and feel of your layout and save off the changes. You could even create several versions and get a consensus from some of your intended audience. If you are given the freedom to create whatever you want without the repercussion of losing that which you started with, how far could you go? Knowing you have the option of scrapping your changes without product loss means you are free to try out any number of features!
Perhaps you have a lengthy set of X-axis values. How different would your chart look if you added the Window Dragger option? What if you narrowed the number of display X-axis values to 5 at a time? Suddenly a chart that was a mile long with tiny little columns becomes a solid, confident beacon of sensible design right on your dashboard. One caveat to this is to make sure you make the color of the dragger stand out from your background color. If you do not and select something perhaps a bit muted, you run the risk of the end user not noticing the dragger bar.
How about a different theme for your speedometer? Getting away from default values can really add a certain pop to your presentation factor. Have you ever explored the Custom Speedometer section? Try using a speedometer that starts on a different angle that the traditional half-moon shape. Perhaps you will find an option that better suits your needs. It is absolutely amazing the amount of real estate you can gain on a dashboard by rotating your speedometers 90 degrees. Who knows? Maybe you will even make room for that company logo you have always wanted to add. I know that will win you big points with the Marketing department.
In summary, go forth. Explore. Do not be afraid to mix it up a bit and try out some new settings. Do not know where to start? Try revisiting what you have already built and swapping out some options. There is no harm in trying and certainly no harm in dreaming. Happy dashboarding!!
Matt Crawford– Technical Consultant, iDashboards