Dashboards and Data Viz

Our team is constantly introducing new customers to iDashboards and our software, so we’ve heard almost every question possible. One way that we like to answer our new customers’ questions is through our dashboard storyboarding process.

Many people hear “storyboarding” and think of a film set and the way a director plans his shots and frames, and the iDashboards storyboarding process is similar. Just like when a director is framing a movie, our goal is to drilldown from endless possibilities into the best charts for our client’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. There isn’t a formal set of rules for creating a logical, intuitive or insightful dashboard – so how do we go from a blank canvas to powerful insights from data? The dashboard storyboarding process is the answer.

Here’s a high-level overview of how we can help you get started with your new dashboards by storyboarding.

Our storyboarding process begins with gathering the dashboard project stakeholders in the same room, in front of a whiteboard. It is imperative to have everyone present so we’re aware of everyone’s goals and are able to be more efficient.

storyboardingThe next step is to agree on the dashboard’s purpose and audience – the two most important key considerations in a dashboard’s design. Knowing the purpose, what insights the company is looking to glean, and who will be using the dashboard will help in selecting the correct metrics.Storyboard Icons_Individual-03

Then begins what most of us think of as storyboarding: dividing the whiteboard into 4 frames and beginning to think about data in a more visual way. The group will decide on a metric to be displayed on the dashboard and establish “Product, Group and Timeframe” for the metric.

Storyboard Icons_Individual-04For example, if you would like to show current month’s average sales versus the same month from last year for each sales manager in the company, using the PGT method will ensure you capture all information. This process is repeated for every metric to be included in the dashboard. We typically recommend clients include 4-6 metrics per dashboard.

Storyboard Icons_Individual-06We will then assist in determining the best chart for each metric. With a library of more than 100 types of charts and graphs, there is an option for any possible metric! Include a sketch of these charts and graphs on the whiteboard so you begin to understand how the dashboard will really work.

Read next: Painting by Numbers: Designing Your Data Picture

The final step is adding color to your charts. We recommend consulting with your graphic design team to ensure brand colors are used according to your organization’s brand standards. Also, think about using color in familiar ways – we often see clients use red, yellow and green, typically seen in traffic lights, for metrics to indicate success or failure.

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Our storyboarding process allows clients to take a deep dive into their existing data sources and take the time to really determine what they want to measure. This allows dashboards to be built into exactly what you need and will lead to highly successful implementation.

Storyboarding can seem a little overwhelming but it is much easier to create and make changes on a whiteboard than an actual dashboard. If you’re interested in diving in more to the storyboarding process or hands-on training, please contact us here.

How have you used dashboard storyboarding? Could you see how storyboarding could help your organization?


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Trip Dixon Director of Operations @iDashboards

As iDashboards Operations Director, Trip Dixon manages all aspects of the marketing, professional services, pre-sales services and technical support departments. In addition to Trip’s leadership expertise, he is an experienced presenter and has spoken at numerous industry events all over the world.


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