Designing the perfect Business Dashboard with users in mind

  • Richard Thelwell
  • March 4, 2015

business dashboard design usersWhen it comes to designing a business dashboard, it is imperative that you keep the end users in mind. It is important that a business takes the time to understand who exactly these end users will be in order to ensure that the maximum utility is gained from these tools.

All too often, businesses are lured in by the flashing lights and gimmicks that many business dashboards have to offer, and fail to get the basics right.

Understanding and fulfilling their requirements can be the difference between success and failure.

In this article we take a look at some of the key questions you should be asking yourself in order to gain a clearer understanding of who the users of your business dashboard will be.

How many users will there be?

Understanding who exactly your users will be is a crucial step, and one which must occur before designing a business dashboard. There may be a wide spectrum of different users, but it still makes sense to try and create a ‘persona’ of the typical characteristics that they may have, and how many of them there will be.

A business dashboard is more effective when it can be customised to the user’s needs, but this becomes progressively more difficult as the number of users increases. Even if the data requirements are the same for all users, the way in which they use the dashboard may be completely different.

With a single user, it would be simple to tailor every aspect of the dashboard to their specific needs, allowing for optimum efficiency. However as the number of users grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure certain sections are user-specific.

It is important that the business dashboard is flexible enough to allow for these differing requirements, without it being diluted so far as to lose its value.

How experienced are these users?

The level of experience of the people using your business dashboard will ultimately define how complex and detailed the information on it must be. This experience may refer to their position within the company, or their previous experience of using similar systems for handling data.

It is important to compensate for the differing capabilities of users by making your dashboard more versatile.

business dashboard users experience
When designing a business dashboard, it is crucial that you take into consideration the varying experience levels of users.

The more experienced a user is, the more likely it is that they will wish to drill down further through the information, as they can handle a greater complexity of data.

On the other hand, a user who is a relative novice would only be able to handle limited complexity, and so the focus for them would be around how easy the dashboard was to use, rather than how extensive the data that it displays is.

Not only is the appropriate volume of data related to experience, the type of data that a user will typically require is also affected. Users in different levels or sectors of the business will interact with different types of data on a day-to-day basis, and it is therefore important that there is a degree of flexibility that allows users to prioritise particular metrics.

Rather than including a large number of filters, which can increase complexity and waste valuable space, it would be more efficient to have some kind of intelligence built in to the dashboard that allows more frequently-used performance indicators to be prioritised.

How will users view your dashboard?

“The process of creating a BI Dashboard for your company starts with choosing the right Dashboard technology,” writes Dave Lavinsky in Entrepreneur, 2013.

Certainly, the platform on which a business dashboard will be viewed influences its design. Technology innovations over recent years have completely changed the way in which dashboard information can be viewed, with developments such as smart phones and tablets making it easier to access data anywhere in the world.

business dashboard technology devices
New technologies are changing the way users access business dashboards

When designing a business dashboard, it is important to take into consideration the advantages and limitations of certain technologies.

For lots of useful tips on creating compelling business dashboards that your users will love, download our eBook below.