Business Tips | Tips & Tricks

What Is An Interactive Dashboard?

what is an interactive dashboard?

Interactive dashboards provide real-time insight into key metrics by allowing users to visualize, filter, and dig deeper into their data. They enable end-users to directly interact with their data, which allows them to develop a deeper insight and knowledge of the numbers driving their business. Therefore, they can be empowered to make more informed and confident decisions. This post outlines some of the main interactive dashboard features that make them such a powerful tool for businesses.

4 Ways to Use An Interactive Dashboard

Setting up an interactive dashboard

From drilldowns to color-schemes, every pixel of your dashboard serves a purpose. These are just four ways to use your unique interactive dashboard features to your advantage…

1. Dig into data with drilldowns

Dashboards let you to view and interact with your data on many levels, from “snapshots” of big ideas to detailed reports. In order to view these detailed reports of the numbers driving your top-level view, you simply need to incorporate a drilldown into your dashboard. When a user is interacting with your dashboard, drilldowns allow them to click on a chart or graph and dig deeper into the data. It provides a closer look at a specific data set, so everyone can understand the factors and datapoints that influence your main KPIs.

Key benefits of data drilldowns:

  • Presents data sets from different angles for greater insight.
  • Presents detailed layers of data individually, so nothing gets overlooked.
  • Allows the user to choose the level and complexity of the data he or she sees.

The key to effective drilldowns is interaction. In an interactive dashboard, you can choose to dig into a specific data set (or not), depending on your goals. On the flipside, dumping too much data on one screen will overload users and dilute the value of your dashboard’s insight. Drilldowns allow you to have the best of both worlds. The main view of the dashboard is clean and free of clutter, but there is still an option to dig into the more granular data.

The key to effective drilldowns is interaction. Click To Tweet

2. Draw attention to important data first

If you could only share one data set with your organization, what would it be? Now open your dashboard: Is that data set the first thing you notice? Why or why not? If it is, you’re guiding users in the right direction. If not, consider rearranging your charts and graphs so users find important metrics first.

How to draw your viewers’ eyes to the right metrics:

  • Placement – European-derived writing systems (like English) read from left to right, starting at the top of the page. This means your viewers are more likely to glance at the top left corner of the dashboard first. Consider putting important metrics there.
  • Color – Color plays an important role in data visualization. Thanks to traffic lights, people tend to associate “green” with good and “red” with bad. On a more psychological level, blue is more often linked to melancholy than brighter colors – such as yellow – which could be associated with excitement or happiness. Use these associations when you convey data. Even more importantly, avoid contradicting viewer’s predisposed interpretations of certain colors in your reports.
  • Size – It’s a pretty simple concept: Users notice bigger charts first. However, sizing is more complex than this idea. If your dashboard is too busy, users might glaze over even the largest charts and graphs. On the other hand, strategic “negative space” (the empty space between objects) can actually draw the viewer’s eye toward important data.

Read next: Data in Context

3. Find relationships between data sets

Since interactive dashboards let you view multiple sets of data at the same time, you’ll start to see relationships between metrics you didn’t notice before. In many ways, data is like color: It can look different depending on the context. What appears to be a “dark” color in one scenario could appear “light” if you surround it with black. That’s because the surrounding color (or data) changes the context.

In many ways, #data is like color: it can look different depending on the context. Click To Tweet

If you keep context in mind with your dashboard presentation, you’ll gain a better understanding of the data’s true implications.

4. Share your data easily and effectively

You can’t build a fence without the right tools, but simply having those tools won’t build a fence either. If you want to create something, you have to use the tools in your toolshed. In the same way, data is only productive when people interact with it and use it.

One of the major benefits to an interactive dashboard is a user-friendly, easy-to-share format. With all of your data in one place (your interactive dashboard) you can deploy it to every level of your organization quickly and easily. This way, users won’t get bogged down trying to find and interpret data because it will be ready for use at a moment’s notice.

A few quick tips for sharing data in your organization:

  • Give organized access to data. If a data set influences your goals, you should have access to it.
  • Encourage a “data-centric” culture in your organization, such as data-driven problem solving.
  • Make sure stakeholders and employees can access data anywhere, such as their phones and computers.
  • Train users so they know how to access data, filter it, find drilldowns, and use them effectively.
  • Highlight success and foster accountability with a transparent data-sharing strategy.

Want to know what successful data visualization looks like?

Designing Crystal Reports Dashboards

Data visualization can bring your data to life, and an interactive dashboard is the easiest way to accomplish this. iDashboards provides data solutions with insight and ease-of-use through advanced reporting software. If you’re interested in seeing what we can do for you, we’d love to give you a free trial.

#Dataviz can bring your data to life. Click To Tweet

Looking for more data visualization? Check out our blog or follow us on social media!

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Britney Smith Quality Assurance Technician @iDashboards

Britney Smith is a Quality Assurance Technician on the iDashboards QA Team, dedicated to software testing. After receiving the company's Dream Team award in 2015, she continues to hunt down bugs so you can visualize your wildest data.


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