Analytics dashboards, when designed properly, offer an at-a-glance barometer of important aspects of your business. DataHero’s dashboards offer the ability to combine charts from key services across the web and display business metrics easily. In this post we’ll cover how to create dashboards that answer your key business questions and follow best practices for data visualization.
Below is an example of a dashboard created in DataHero, pulling charts from various services.
First, consider the audience for your dashboard. If you’re going to email a dashboard to the CFO, she likely doesn’t need to see how the Google AdWords campaigns are performing, (that would be better left for the marketing team).
In the example below, you can see that the dashboard is clearly serving the purpose of monitoring leading KPIs for a sales manager. It includes only information on sales representatives in terms of the number of calls made, rate of follow up contact and win opportunities. There is no extra clutter and each chart follows necessary data visualization guidelines.
Next, similar to considering your audience, consider your purpose. Dashboards can fall into a few different categories. Operational dashboards tell you the day to day metrics of your business – site visits, number of calls made, appointments created, etc. A Google Analytics dashboard for site traffic is a perfect example of an operational dashboard. It allows you to monitor day to day occurrences on your site, as well as goal completions, where people are coming from, etc. This allows you to make decisions quickly without extra clutter.
More strategic dashboards will reflect overall KPIs like revenue streams, costs, headcounts, pipelines, etc. These may contain similar charts to your operations dashboard, but over a longer period of time, or connected to other aspects of the business. For example, the dashboard above may display conversions by source for the entire year, instead of just for the past week. It may also include revenue per source or retention rate per connected service, similar to the dashboard below.
Regardless of whether your dashboard is operational or strategic, establish the goals first. Then you can build the dashboard to fit, rather than building a dashboard simply because you have the data available. This may require communication and buy-in from various teams and people to set larger company metrics. The purpose of a dashboard is to communicate a lot of information quickly, which can’t be accomplished if you’re throwing in charts simply because you have them on hand. DataHero lets you create as many dashboards as you’d like. Consider creating several focused dashboards instead of one overly-generalized dashboard. You can even reuse the same chart on multiple dashboards if there is overlap.
Most Western languages read left to right and top to bottom, so include your most important chart in the top left, and order accordingly. It can also be helpful to group graphs by category; all your finance charts together, all your human resources charts together, etc. You’ll notice in the example dashboard above, calls per week is the chart in the top left, the act considered closest to sales rep revenue.
Do you monitor this data daily, weekly, bi-weekly? Ensure that your datasets are scheduled to update for the appropriate time. Remember that Live Charts update based on your datasets, not based on the dashboard. An executive dashboard may only need to be updated monthly, while a site metrics dashboard may need to be updated daily.
Even if you follow all the rules above for a meaningful dashboard, it’s not useful without the right charts to communicate the data. Make sure the information you’re tracking is visually represented in the way that makes the most sense for that type of data. Remember that your dashboards, much like your data analytics in general, will be a constant work in progress. Priorities and goals shift quickly, so your dashboards should as well. A visually appealing dashboard is great, but understanding the underlying goals and data that supports those goals is the most important aspect of a useful dashboard.
DataHero helps you unmask the answers in your data. There’s nothing to download or install. Simply create an account at and connect to the data services you use every day (like Salesforce, Stripe, MailChimp, Dropbox and Box). DataHero automatically decodes your data and shows you the answers you need through dynamic visualizations.
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