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How to Create

Compelling
Business
Dashboards

Complete Guide
IS THIS BOOK RIGHT FOR ME?

Not quite sure if this e-book is right for you? See the description
below to determine if your level matches the content you are
about to read.
INTRODUCTORY
Introductory content is for those who are new to the
subject. You have heard of business dashboards and
know about the benefits that they can bring to a
company, but youre not a dashboard expert, and want
to learn more about the key concepts.
INTERMEDIATE
Intermediate content is for those who are familiar with
the subject, but have only basic experience in
executing strategies and tactics on the topic. This
content typically covers the fundamentals and moves
on to reveal more complex functions and examples.
After reading it, you will feel comfortable leading the
design project for a new business dashboard.
ADVANCED
Advanced content is for those who are, or want to be,
experts on the subject. In it, we walk you through
advanced features of business dashboards, and help
you to develop a complete mastery of the subject.
After reading it, you will feel ready not only to execute
strategies and tactics, but also to teach others how to
create successful dashboards.



This e-book
Overview...

Factors to consider before you start....................

What to include on your dashboard..............

Aesthetics .................

Data Visualisations and Charts.

Structure...........

Functionality....

Real-life examples of good and bad dashboards..

How your finished dashboard should look...

Checklist...
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
4

6

17

32

48

75

85

94

101

104
Overview
// Page 4
Getting at the information you need to run your business is
essential. There is little point in collecting large volumes of
data for it then to be poorly communicated to the people to
whom it really matters.
With the rapid rise of information technologies, businesses
have increased their demands for high-quality performance
data. The difficulty comes in finding a means of presenting
this information to employees in a way that is quick and easy
to interpretand this is where dashboards come in.
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of hype around business
dashboards over the last few years, and people have been
drawn in by flashy graphics and slick visual displays.
If information
is important, it
deserves to be
well communicated.
Stephen Few, Information Dashboard
Design, 2013
// Page 5
However, it is important that you see beyond these flashy
effects and concentrate on what really matters, which is
about communicating information well.
Sadly, there are plenty of examples to be found where
business dashboards are poorly designed, and consequently
the value that they bring is severely diminished.
This e-book is packed with all the information that you need
in order to be able to design an effective business
dashboard. It is for everyone who is considering adopting a
business dashboard, or even for those who simply want to
learn more about the topic.
CHAPTER 1:
Factors to consider before you
start
// Page 6
Before you even begin to think about designing a dashboard,
there are a number of important factors that you must take
into consideration, to help you analyse how the dashboard will
be used.

This section will cover these important steps, from considering
the data that you have, to who will be using it, and finally the
platforms on which it will be deployed.
// Page 7
1. What type of data are you working with?
One of the first factors you must take into consideration
before designing your dashboard is the type of data that
you will be working with. The type of data you are using
can heavily influence the way in which it should be
presented and visualised.

Most business dashboards tend to deal with facts, and
therefore the majority of information on display is
quantitative. There are, however, various exceptions
where this is not the case, and this must be taken into
consideration when determining how this non-quantitative
data should be presented alongside the quantitative data.


2. How up to date should the data be?

How often the information on a dashboard is updated can
have a significant effect on the way that the dashboard
should be designed. This update frequency is often
dictated by the individual demands of businesses, and can
range all the way from real-time updates, to weekly
intervals.

It is more common for the data to have lags of at least a
couple of hours, in order to ensure that it is processed
correctly and is of a high standard.


How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 8









No matter how frequently the data is updated, it is vital
that the user knows how old the data that they are
looking at is. This could easily be done by designating a
small section of the dashboard to include a timestamp of
when the last update occurred.

The update frequency can also impact how extensive the
dashboard can be. For example, if the data is required to
be updated in real time, then it is likely that the
dashboard may take a very basic form, with reduced data
requirements to ensure that this is possible.

If the dashboard is to be updated less frequently, then
much greater amounts of data can be processed, and this
will allow the dashboard to be much more detailed, with a
larger number of key metrics.


Useful Note
Typical Matillion BI users have their data refreshed
automatically.

This is usually on a schedule, once every 24 hours or as
often as once every 3 hours.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
How often the dashboard itself is used can also influence
its design. If the dashboard is used frequently, then users
will become much more comfortable and experienced in
the way that it works, meaning less instruction is needed.
However, if the dashboards usage is more limited, then
users will require greater direction in how to operate it,
especially if a significant amount of time has lapsed since
their last visit.

3. 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 dashboard is more effective when it can be customised
to the users 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.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 9
It is important that the dashboard is flexible enough to
allow for these differing requirements, without it being
diluted so far as to lose its value.

4. How experienced are the users?

The level of experience of the people using your
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.

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 was the data that
it displays.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 10
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 to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 11
// Page 12
The process of
creating a business
intelligence
dashboard for your
company starts with
choosing the right
dashboard
technology.
The platform on which the
dashboard will be viewed
can be influential in
determining how it should
be designed. Innovations in
technology over recent
years have completely
changed the way in which
information can be viewed,
with technology such as
smartphones and tablets
making it easier than ever to
access data anywhere in the
world.
Dave Lavinsky, Entrepreneur,
2013
So when designing a dashboard, its important to take into
consideration the advantages and limitations of certain
technologies.

On the next page we will look at three of the most common
platforms in greater detail.



5. How will the dashboard be viewed?

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
5.1 Desktop/Laptop

Before the rise of the internet and web servers, this was
traditionally the most common way of viewing
dashboards. It often involves extensive software
capabilities, which can be costly both to purchase and
maintain.

This viewing platform is still extremely common today,
particularly with businesses that prefer to keep their
intelligence operations on-site through worries about
security. Designing a dashboard for use on desktops or
laptops can involve fewer constraints than other
platforms.

5.2 Web based/ browser

As technology has advanced, data has more frequently
been hosted on servers, with dashboards accessed
through web browsers. This has delivered a number of
benefits, including increased accessibility, ease of
maintenance, and a reduced cost of deployment.
However, this platform has often imposed restrictions on
the development of rich dashboards, limiting the
functionality and effectiveness of business dashboards.


// Page 13
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide

These problems have gradually been overcome, and web-
based dashboards are now a much more viable
alternative to the traditional platform.

5.3 Mobile/ Tablets







Through the use of
mobile devices, the
need for dashboards
has become critical in
companies large and
small.
With the advances that have
been made in smartphones
and tablets, it is now
important to consider
whether or not to make your
dashboards available across
these devices. This can
improve accessibility and be
a great selling point for your
dashboard, but it can also
be costly and take a long
time to make available
across a large number of
supported devices.
Kevin Lindquist, Venture Beat,
2013
You must also take into consideration the screen size and
resolution of individual devices in order to optimise your
dashboards display.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 14

Despite these challenges, there is growing support for mobile
dashboards. A recent survey by Jaspersoft found that 85% of
respondents recognised the advantages that could be gained
from accessing Business Intelligence tools on their mobile
device.


Useful Note
Matillion Dashboards can be accessed via Web Browser,
Smartphone AND tablet devices making it easier to view
your data anywhere, at any time.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 15
Action Items:
Make sure you know what type of data you are working
with.

Consider how up-to-date this information will be, and
how frequently the dashboard itself will be updated.

Think about how many users there will be.

Think about how experienced these users will be, and
take account of the varying levels of expertise.

Consider what platform your dashboard will be accessed
on, and how this may affect the way in which it should be
designed.

In the next chapter we will look at what you need to include
on your Dashboard with a particular focus on choosing the
perfect metrics.





// Page 16
CHAPTER 2:
What to include on your dashboard
// Page 17
Arguably the most important stage in developing a business
dashboard is determining what exactly you want to be
included on it. The importance of this stage should never be
underestimated, as the whole dashboard will be built around
this content.
It is crucial that the data you include is of a high standard. If
you put rubbish in, you will more than likely get rubbish out,
and this can completely diminish the integrity of your
dashboard.

1. Define what your dashboard is trying to achieve

The definition of what exactly a dashboard is setting out
to achieve is highly subjective, and therefore there is no
right or wrong perspective.

Instead, you should try to compile a dashboard definition
based around your individual requirements, and what
exactly it is that you want the user to gain from using the
dashboard.

To help you when creating this definition, you should refer
back to the questions we have already discussed:


What type of data are you working with?

How up to date must the data be?

Who are your users?

How many users are there?

What level of experience do the users possess?

What platform will be used to view the dashboard?




// Page 18
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
This definition will provide a solid foundation for you to
build your dashboard around, and it will be important to
refer back to it at every stage of the build, so that you
maintain a close alignment with the brief.

2. Avoid concentrating on style over substance





Ultimately, poor
quality data is
misinformation, which
will lead to
miscommunication,
misunderstanding,
and inaccurate
analysis.
When beginning the design
process for a new
dashboard, there is often
the temptation to focus
heavily on its visual
appearance, rather than on
the actual information that
needs to be contained.

This is particularly common
when a business is heavily
involved in the initial stages
of the design process.
Lachlan James, SmartData
Collective, 2013
It may have been presented with a flashy sales pitch, and
consequently impressed by all the flashy visual features that
a dashboard can contain. So attention may therefore have
been drawn to the aesthetic qualities of the dashboard,
leaving the content itself somewhat neglected.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 19
Instead, its crucial that you remain focused, and think
about what information needs to be included before
considering how it should be presented. Regardless of
how good the visuals are, if the information that you put
in is of a poor standard, then your dashboard will never be
as effective as it could be.

Although flashy dashboards can be a great way to sell a
product, it is important to manage expectations about how
it will realistically turn out. In an ideal world a dashboard
would both look and operate perfectly, but content should
always take a precedence over design, and this may
slightly compromise what is possible when it comes to
visual appearance.


3. Know what users want

Every stage of the design process should revolve around
the requirements of the end user, and it is therefore vital
to know what these requirements are. Getting into the
minds of a typical user can help you to analyse what
information they consider to be most important, and how
this information will be used.

It can even be beneficial to sit down with a user and
attempt to map out the thought processes that they would
typically go through when viewing this kind of information,
in order to help highlight any key areas which may need
to be prioritised.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 20
Sales Sales Total
Sales
(Monthly)
Sales
(Product)
Sales
(Location)
A similar chart to the one above could be used to map out the
process that a user goes through when viewing a dashboard.
The example shows how a user may begin by looking at sales,
and by wanting to know the total value of sales to date, but
then may wish to drill down deeper in order to gain a more
comprehensive understanding of what is going on.


How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 21
Mapping out key metrics
They may choose to look at sales in relation to variables such
as time, product, and even location. The order that they map
these variables in may also provide a useful insight into how
important each respective variable is.

Sitting down with users and talking through this process can
also help you to develop a greater understanding of their level
of experience and expertise. This will then be able to guide you
in designing the dashboard around these personal
characteristics.
With such a limited amount
of space available on a
dashboard, it is crucial that
you take a somewhat
ruthless approach to what
really needs to be there.

In other methods of
reporting it is common to
find information that isnt
entirely necessary, but which helps to bulk out a report a
little more. With a dashboard, however, you cannot afford
this luxury, and there needs to be more stringent restrictions
on what should be included.



4. Assess what information is really necessary
In other methods of
reporting it is
common to find
information that isnt
entirely necessary,
but which helps to
bulk out the report.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 22
There may be information which has been used extensively
in the past but which has now become outdated, irrelevant
or simply used less frequently. The user may still consider
this information to be important, but including it on the
dashboard could take up valuable space that could be used
for metrics that are more appropriate for that moment in
time.

In summary, the end user ultimately defines what
information they want to be included, but it is important to
use knowledge and experience to guide them in making
these decisions.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 23
Category Measures
Sales
Bookings
Billings
Pipeline (anticipated sales)
Number of orders
Order amounts
Selling prices
Marketing
Market share
Campaign success
Customer demographics
Finance
Revenues
Expenses
Profits
Technical Support
Number of support calls
Resolved cases
Customer satisfaction
Call durations
Fulfilment
Number of days to ship
Backlog
Inventory levels
Manufacturing
Number of units manufactured
Manufacturing times
Number of defects
Human Resources
Employee satisfaction
Employee turnover
Count of open positions
Count of late performance reviews
5. Examples of metrics

Information visualisation expert Stephen Few
highlights some common metrics that you might find
on a business dashboard, categorised by individual
areas of the business:
Stephen Few, Information Dashboard Design, 2013
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 24
6. What makes a perfect metric?

A good metric may depend entirely on the specific
requirements of a particular company. However, it can be
beneficial to have a solid framework in place to know
what characteristics contribute towards actually forming
that perfect metric.

One such framework stipulates that a metric should be
Actionable, Transparent, Accessible and
Recognisable.

Metric
Actionable
Transparent
Accessible
Recognisable
// Page 25
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
6.1. Actionable

A metric can be considered actionable when there is a
specific and repeatable action which can be linked to the
observed data.

The value of a metric can be greatly diminished if it
simply presents data without giving any real insight into
what steps should be taken as a consequence of the
findings.

The opposite of actionable metrics are what we
commonly refer to as vanity metrics, which display the
current trends in data, but leave little indication as to
what should be done about it.


6.2. Transparent

It would be useless to present a metric if the user does
not possess a clear indication as to where the information
is coming from, and why it is significant.

Transparency is a key factor when it comes to business
dashboards, because the user can often be overwhelmed
by the mass of data on display, without having any real
appreciation of what it is doing there.



How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 26
To improve this understanding, it is important that
metrics involve relatively simple calculations, making it
easy for users to follow them, no matter what their level
of experience. Complex algorithms can often
overcomplicate results, and leave users confused.

This defeats the whole purpose of the dashboard as a
tool that provides a simplified overview of the key
performance indicators.


6.3. Accessible

It is crucial that a metric involves data which is easily
accessible, and simple to maintain. The difficulty involved
in collating data can often have a detrimental effect on
how frequently it can be updated, and hence how
relevant the information is. Therefore, to gain the most
value from this data, it is essential that the collection
process is as fast and effective as possible.

In order to ensure this accessibility, it may be necessary
to make slight alterations to the metrics that you wish to
present. There is little point in presenting a perfect metric
if the data quality itself is of a poor standard.



How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 27











6.4. Recognisable

The effectiveness of a metric can be considerably
diminished if there is even a slight degree of ambiguity
about what it actually means. If the definition of a
specific metric is largely subjective or difficult to
understand, then this will compromise the consistency
with which it is interpreted.

It is therefore vital to ensure that there is a clear and
distinct understanding of what every metric means, and
to make sure that this meaning is consistent throughout
the whole of the dashboard.



Useful Note
A well implemented Business Intelligence solution can
help to solve this problem by automating the collection
and display of key metrics.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 28
7. Ensure metrics are comparable

There is little point in having any metrics at all if there is
nothing to compare them against. Static data provides
only limited benefits to users, and so it is crucial that you
choose metrics which are conducive to comparison
against other variables.

7.1. Time comparison

One of the most common variables used for comparison
is time. Comparing data against time can allow you to
represent trends in the data, and make comparisons
against points in the past, or even against future
forecasts.

Some typical increments used for time include years,
quarters, months, week, days, hours and even real-time.
The time increments used depend heavily on individual
requirements, and the speed at which action is required
in light of the observed data.

7.2. Cross comparison

Cross comparison of metrics allows a user to analyse
certain variables in relation to one another, to see if there
is any correlation between them.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 29
This is particularly important when variables are known to
directly influence one another.

Cross comparison can be an extremely effective tool on a
business dashboard, but it can also cause complications,
as different variables will typically have differing
measures and scales.

This can be particularly challenging when it comes to
visualising different variables in a way that allows
comparison.

7.3. Goal comparison

It is important that a dashboard allows businesses to
chart their progress against their predetermined goals
and targets. This can help businesses to determine any
areas in which they may be over- or under-performing,
and can help them to decide which areas may require
more immediate attention.

It is therefore important that the metrics used are
consistent with any specific targets that the business may
have, in order to aid comparison with greater ease.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 30
Action Items:
Start by defining what your dashboard is trying to
achieve.

Avoid concentrating on style over substance.

Gain an insight into what it is that your users want.

Assess what information is really necessary, in order to
avoid wasting space on your dashboard.

Know the components of a perfect metric and refer to
some of the example metrics for guidance.

Make sure that these metrics allow for meaningful
comparison.

In the next chapter we will look at the aesthetic qualities of a
dashboard, with an emphasis on the appropriate use of
colour and typography.





// Page 31
CHAPTER 3:
Aesthetics:
Colour
When it comes to data visualization, colour can often be one
of the most powerful tools at your disposal, and it is
therefore of critical importance that you get this aspect of
design right when designing a business dashboard.

At its most simplistic level, colour can be used to draw the
readers attention to those areas of the dashboard which
contain the most important information. Other uses can
include the emotive qualities of certain colours, and
differentiating between multiple data sets.

// Page 32
By following a few simple tips, you can use colour effectively to
give your dashboard the professional appearance that you
desire.


1. Dont overuse colour

There is often a temptation to use excessive amounts of
colour, in order to highlight as much information as
possible in the small amount of space that you have. This
can lead to dashboards looking confusing, congested and
unprofessional.

Its important to understand the role that colour plays, and
to analyse where it is needed and where it is not. By doing
this you can cut down on any unnecessary use of colour,
and leave your dashboard looking clean and clear.



// Page 33
Useful Note
A great way to do this is to start off with a blank
canvas, by having all of the data displayed in a soft or
neutral colour. Once this is done you can now pick out
the most important parts of the dashboard, and then
strategically use colour to make these sections stand
out from the rest of the data.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Using too many different
colours to describe the same
set of data can often cause
unnecessary confusion for
the reader
Instead, you should use
the same colour, so that
the reader can easily
compare values across the
data set. You can rely on
the data labels to
differentiate the different
values.

2. Dont use DIFFERENT colours for the SAME data range

Excessive use of colour
Effective use of shades
// Page 34
If you still wish to highlight a particular value, you could try
using a different shade of the same colour in order to do
this.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
3. Dont use the SAME colours for DIFFERENT data sets


Equally, using the same colour scheme across different sets of
completely unrelated data can cause unnecessary confusion,
leading the viewer to assume that there is a link between them.

Confusing use of same colour scheme
// Page 35
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 36
This problem is evident in the example below, a dashboard
from Dundas. The dashboard uses the same colours for both
the pie charts and the bar charts, which leads the user to
assume a link between the two, when in reality there isnt
one.
Real life example of problem from Dundas Dashboard
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
4. Consider the connotations of colour

When picking which colours to use on your dashboard
and where to use themyou must consider how the
colours in question might be perceived by your audience.
Some colours have very strong emotional connotations
attached to them, and may result in an emotive response
from the reader.

















Although this reaction can often be a positive thing, it
must be controlled in order to ensure that the response is
in line with what you intended for the visualization to
achieve.


Source: Do2Learn , Emotions colour wheel, 2013
// Page 37
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
For example, it would be inappropriate to use the
colour red, which is strongly associated with losses, to
describe a positive value. However, when used
correctly it can be a useful tool to highlight negative
values which need may greater attention.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
A B C D E -15
-10
-5
0
5
10
15
A B C D E

Inappropriate use of red Appropriate use of red
// Page 38
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
5. Choose a colour scheme

When using more than one colour in your data visualization it
is important to carefully choose which colours go together
well, and which you should avoid combining.
You may choose a particular colour scheme to represent your
data. For example, you could use progressively darker shades
to represent an increase in value.








Or you may utilise contrasting colours to make the data stand
out more.





0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
A
B
C
D
E
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
Progressively darker shades
Contrasting colours
// Page 39
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Useful Note
Over 250 million people worldwide have some degree of
colour blindness. This equates to around 8% of males
and 0.5% of females. With such a high prevalence
worldwide, is this really something you can afford to
ignore when choosing a colour scheme for your
dashboard?












6. Avoid colours which are TOO close together

Above everything else, it is the data contained on a
dashboard that should take precedence, and it is vital
that this is not overshadowed by colour choices which
can make the information difficult to read.

This can often be the case when colours used to display
data are too similar to one another, and may cause
confusion for the reader when distinguishing between
values.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 40
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
Colours too close together
This can be an even greater problem when data intersects,
making it difficult to follow the respective trends of
different data sets.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
jan feb mar apr may jun jul aug
Intersecting lines difficult to interpret
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 41
The best way to ensure that the data is legible is to pick
colours with a high contrast. This contrast can then be tested
by converting the image to grayscale to determine how much
definition is present.
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
Normal
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
A B C D E
Grayscale
Using grayscale to check contrast
// Page 42
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Useful Note
The most common type of colour blindness is
Red/Green colour blindness where a person finds it
difficult to distinguish between colours where either red
or green are a part of the whole colour. This type
accounts for around 99% of the total number of colour
blind sufferers and is commonly an inherited condition.













7. Avoid using gradient fills

When choosing the fill colour for sections of your charts, you
should avoid using gradient fills.

They may look visually appealing, but can be detrimental to
the clarity of the data, and can cause unnecessary confusion
for the user, especially if sections of the data become close to
invisible.

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 43
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Gradient fills can be an even greater problem if they
begin to clash with colours of other sections of the
charts.
0
50
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Gradient fills on bar chart
Gradient fills against similar background colour
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 44
Aesthetics:
Typography
With hundreds of different typefaces to choose from, the
decision on which fonts to use on your dashboard can often
be a difficult and time consuming one.

Titles, labels and descriptions are a vital part of data
presentation, but its vital to ensure that the typeface does
not detract attention away from the data you are trying to
present.

On the other hand, it is also important that such text is
prominent and legible enough for viewers to read with
sufficient ease.
// Page 45

1. Basic rules for typography

Make sure the font is not TOO LARGE or TOO SMALL for the
viewer to read. Size is critical, in order to get the necessary
information across without dominating the page.
Try to stick to a relatively basic typeface which is easy to read.

Avoid highly stylised fonts.

Avoid using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS; this can often be difficult
to read.

Only use BOLD and ITALICS when they are necessary in order
to emphasize a particular point.

Avoid putting text at an


Avoid or your text too
much, in order to fit the space requirements.

Avoid any unnecessary effects such as
or




// Page 46
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Action Items:
Think carefully about the amount of colour that is
needed.
Avoid using different colours for the same data range.
Avoid creating using the same colour schemes for
different data sets, in order to avoid inappropriate
comparison.
Consider the connotations of certain colours, and where
they should (and should not) be used.
Be careful when choosing a colour scheme to ensure that
the data is easy to interpret.
Avoid colours that are too close together.
Make sure that these metrics allow meaningful
comparison.
Avoid using gradient fills.
Think carefully about the typeface text that you use
throughout the dashboard.

In the next chapter we will look at the use of charts and
other forms of data visualisation throughout a Business
Dashboard.





// Page 47
// Page 48
Choices made surrounding the use of data visualisations can
often make or break a business dashboard. This section
analyses the best charts to use for particular purposes, and
highlights some key mistakes that you should avoid making.
A poorly chosen
graph can completely
obscure otherwise
clear data.
Stephen Few, Information Dashboard
Design, 2013
CHAPTER 4:
Data Visualisations and Charts
1.1. Select the right increments for your charts

The increments that you use in your charts are extremely
important, and can define the way in which trends are
presented. The number of increments and the pattern they
follow can often determine how easy it is to determine values
at a particular point on a line graph.


1. General rules for charts

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If the increments are too
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value.
// Page 49
Unsuitable increments make chart unclear
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
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On the other hand, if the
increments are too large,
then they will not be
detailed enough for users
to obtain any real value
from the data.
The best increments to use are sequences of numbers that
would typically be used in counting.

e.g. 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10
0, 5, 10, 20, 25, 20
0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50
Larger increments can also diminish clarity
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 50
1.2. Avoid combining unrelated charts together in one figure

Charting two unrelated series on one chart can confuse
the reader, and lead them to assume that there must be
a direct relationship between the two.

This is made even worse if two different scales are used,
one on either axis. And even more so when there is no
indication as to which axis corresponds to which data set!

For example, it would be generally inappropriate to chart
both sales revenues and the number of employees on the
same chart, when there is no direct link between the two.


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// Page 51
Combining two unrelated charts causes confusion
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
However, combining charts can be a useful tool when done
correctly.

For example, there is a clear relationship between the sales
revenues and unit sales shown in the chart below.














By using two different axes, you can plot the information
much more closely together, to make that relationship clear.
Labelling each axis allows the user to easily interpret which
scale belongs to which data.

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// Page 52
Related charts with clear indication of corresponding axis
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
1.3. Think about the importance of direction

The direction in which you present certain types of data can
be more important than you think.
For example, it would be inappropriate to have a scale that
has negative numbers at the top, or a chart that displays
negative values on the right hand side of the zero mark as
shown below.

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A B C D E F G H I
// Page 53
Axis displayed in wrong direction
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
-20
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A B C D E F G H I
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1.4. Avoid cramming too much information into one
chart

With the limited amount of space available on a
dashboard, there is often the temptation to cram as
much data as possible into a single visualization.
However, this can lead to charts that look confusing,
messy, and which are difficult to interpret.
Instead you should always have negative values displayed
underor to the left ofthe zero mark.
Axis displayed in correct direction
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 54
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The amount of data you need to include on a chart obviously
depends on what it is you are presenting, but you should never
reach the point where an excess of data compromises the
legibility of the chart.
Too much data crammed into charts
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 55
1.5. Make sure data labels are legible

When displaying significant amounts of data on one chart,
data legends and labels become increasingly important in
allowing the user to differentiate between the various values.

A dashboard aims to present key data at a glance, so it is
important that the user does not have to spend long periods
of time analysing what each piece of data means.

Displaying labels at an angle can often prove difficult to read,
so this should be avoided where possible. If needs be, you
could rotate the axis so that it becomes easy to present the
titles.


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// Page 56
Labels difficult to read Labels much clearer
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
The data labels should be prominent enough so that they are
easily readable, but not so overwhelming that they detract
attention away from the data itself.



EXPORTS
IMPORTS
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// Page 57
Labels are too large
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
2. Bar Charts

2.1. Think about the bar width

The width of the bar in a bar chart can affect how easily the
data is interpreted.

If the bars are too thin, with large gaps between them, then
the readers attention will automatically focus on the large
gaps rather than the actual data.





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On the other hand, if the bars are too wideand if there is
little or no gap in between themthen the data can blend into
one, and become difficult to differentiate between.
Bars are too thin
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 58
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2.2. Avoid using distracting fills

In a bar chart all of the bars are usually measuring the same
variable, so there is no reason why you should need to use an
array of confusing colours and fills to differentiate them.

This can distract the reader from comparing the data.


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Bars are too thick
Unnecessary and distracting fills
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 59
2.3. Avoid using 3D bars

3D charts may seem like a good idea, but in reality they can
make it more complicated to determine exact values on a bar
chart.

The difficulty arises in determining which part of the bar is
actually the top value, and this may create confusion
between users.



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3D bars difficult to interpret
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 60
2.4. Where possible put the bars in size order

In some cases there may be a particular reason behind the
order of bars in a bar chart. For example, there may be a
time sequence, or variables may be listed alphabetically.

However, in cases where there is no particular sequence to
the variables, it is always better to have some kind of
structure to the order in which they are presented.

This makes it much easier to compare values against each
other.




0 10 20 30 40 50
Retail
Automotive
Design
Internet
Healthcare
Sport
0 10 20 30 40 50
Retail
Automotive
Design
Internet
Healthcare
Sport
Random order Structured in size order
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 61
3. Line Charts

3.1. Avoid misinterpreting the trend

When using a line chart, it is crucial that you think about the
ways in which the scale of the chart can affect the way in
which trends are presented.

If the scale is too overstated, then it may exaggerate trends in
the data.

On the other hand, if the scale leads to the line becoming too
flat, then the viewer may underestimate the trend, and this
can obscure the message that you are trying to get across.








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Different scales result in a very different shape
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 62
3.2. Think about line thickness

A thin line could fade into the background and become almost
invisible.










However, a line that is too thick may obscure minor details in
the trend that would otherwise be visible.


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Line is too thin
Line is too thick
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 63
3.3. Do not use too many different line styles

When you have a number of different lines on one chart it can
be tempting to use various different line styles to differentiate
between them all.

This often includes the use of various dashed lines,
compounds, and shape markers.

However, an excessive use of line styles can detract attention
away from the lines themselvesand therefore from the
information that they present.















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A
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C
Distracting line styles
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 64
Instead, you could use different shades or different weights
to get the same effect, but without these confusing and
distracting markers.


3.4. Avoid using too many lines altogether

When it comes to displaying data, more is not always better.

This is particularly the case when it comes to charts such as
line charts where having too many lines on one chart can
leave it looking extremely messy and difficult to analyse.





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Too many lines displayed
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 65
Instead you should concentrate displaying a small number of
the more important data series. Displaying a maximum of
three or four lines leaves the chart looking much clearer.












Where possible label each line directly

Separating the legend from the lines makes it harder to
determine which line means whatespecially when, as
shown below, there are a large number of values.

The user has to cross-reference each line with the
corresponding title on the legend, and this can prove to be
confusing and time consuming.








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Fewer lines improve clarity
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 66












Where possible you should try and label each line directly.
This label should usually be placed to the right hand side of
each lines end point.




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Number of values on the legend makes it difficult to cross
reference
Labelling each line directly makes this simpler
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 67
4. Pie Chart

Pie charts tend to be used sparingly on business dashboards,
but they can be a great tool to use when you wish to present
the composition of a particular data set.

4.1. Think about the order of the slices

Many people make the mistake of placing the smallest
segment at the top of the pie chart, with the sections getting
progressively larger as you go in a clockwise direction around
the chart.





When analysing data in a pie chart the top is usually the
first place a user will start, so it makes more sense to have
the most important segment placed at the top.
// Page 68
Smallest segment at the top of the chart
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Rather than having the sections in order as you go clockwise
around the circle, you should have the large sections towards
the top of the chart, getting progressively smaller as you
reach the bottom.


Largest
5
4th
3rd
2nd
4.2. Dont overuse effects to make sections stand out


The use of special effects, colours, and fills can be great ways
to make a particular piece of your pie chart stand out from the
rest.

However, you must be careful not to overuse these tools and
thereby risk hindering the clarity of the data.

// Page 69
Largest segment given more emphasis
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
To highlight a particular section you could use simple shading,
or you could even pull the slice out of the chart.

But overdoing this can lead to the effects then drawing
attention away from the data the chart is trying to present.
Using distracting colours and patterns, or separating the slices
out too much, can be distracting for the user.
// Page 70
Simple effect used to highlight segment
Excessive use of effects can diminish appearance and clarity
of data
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
5. Sparklines
Taking up a small
amount of room, a
sparkline can display
a trend based on
adjacent data in a
clear and compact
graphical
representation.
Sparklines are a great way
of presenting significant
volumes of data in a
relatively small amount of
space, and so are perfect for
a business dashboard!

Sparklines are commonly
found embedded in tables.
These tables often contain
large amounts of data and
can overwhelm the user
without giving them any real
insight into the trends that
are occurring.

Microsoft Office 2013 Sparklines
Example of Sparklines
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 71
Creating spark lines in cells within a table can provide an
effective way of presenting these trends without devoting too
much space to complex data visualizations.

Sparklines typically have no scale, so the data that they
present takes a relatively compressed form. However, this
gives a simplistic yet useful overview of trends in situations
where intense detail is not necessary.

Due to the lack of scale or coordinates, it is important to
ensure that the user knows what exactly the lines are
representing. This can be done by making sure that the
sparklines are placed directly next to the information they are
showing, in order to ensure that they are relevant and
recognisable.

// Page 72
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Action Items:
General Rules
Think about which increments are best to use in
charts.
Avoid combining unrelated charts into one.
Consider the importance of direction when presenting
data.
Avoid cramming too much information into each chart.
Make sure that any data labels or data legends are
legible.

Bar Charts
Think about bar width.
Avoid using distracting fills.
Avoid using unnecessary effects such as 3D.
Think about the order of the bars.






// Page 73
Line Charts
Avoid misinterpreting the trends.
Think about line thickness.
Avoid using too many different line styles.
Avoid including too many lines altogether.
Label each line directly.

Other Charts
Think about the order and direction of the slices in a
pie chart.
Avoid using too many effects to differentiate each
slice.
Think about the size of sparklines.
Ensure they are placed in relevant sections.

In the next chapter we will look at how you can use structure
effectively to gain the greatest value possible from your
dashboard.







// Page 74
// Page 75
Structure is one of the most important factors involved in the
design of any Business Intelligence dashboard.

Youve gathered up all of the information that you wish to
present, and youve made it stand out with the use of colour
and data visualizations, but now its time to think about how
youre going to bring this all together.

Information cannot
be placed just
anywhere on the
dashboard, nor can
sections of the
display be sized
simply to t the
available space.
Stephen Few: Pervasive Hurdles to Effective
Dashboard Design, Visual Business Intelligence
Newsletter, January 2007
CHAPTER 5:
Structure
With dashboard size being typically limited to a single page,
the area available on which to display information is severely
restricted. With this in mind, it becomes even more important
that you use this space wisely, and pick a structure that
exploits most value from the space on offer.

The structure of a dashboard can completely dictate the way
in which the audience views and interprets the information
that is being presented to them.

Its therefore essential that you tailor the structure in line with
the message you are trying to portray.

// Page 76
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
1. Think about which information requires greater emphasis

All the information that is contained on the dashboard is
important, otherwise it wouldnt be there. However, its usually
the case that some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are
more important than others.

So you must think carefully about which information you wish
to place greater emphasis on, and how this can be achieved.

The amount of attention that information receives can be
influenced by where it is located on the dashboard. The figure
below shows the areas that are more emphasized by the
human eye than others.




EMPHASIZED



NEITHER EMPHASIZED
nor DE-EMPHASIZED



NEITHER EMPHASIZED
nor DE-EMPHASIZED



DE-EMPHASIZED
// Page 77
Emphasized areas of a dashboard
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Using this information, you can strategically place what you
consider to be the most important content in the top left
quadrant, as this is the first place a user will typically look
when they arrive at your dashboard.

Many firms make the mistake of placing the company name or
a large company logo in this area, wasting valuable space in
the most important section.

You should position content which requires less attention in
the bottom right quadrant as this area is significantly de-
emphasized by the human eye.

// Page 78
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
2. Give information the space that it deserves

Its crucial that you use the small amount of space that you
have wisely, and that you think carefully about which
information deserves more space than other information.
Data legends can be
extremely important.
However, they should
never take excessive
amounts of space
away from the data
visualization itself.
Unnecessarily large
images can take
space away from
more important data.
Large tables can often
take up significant
amounts of space. It may
be a better use of space
to consider presenting
this data in a chart/graph.
Charts that represent
multiples data sets may
require more space than
those that contain only a
small number of values.
// Page 79
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
3. Do not devote too much space to one data area

No matter how important a topic is, it probably shouldnt take
up the whole dashboard.

But this can often occur when too many visualizations are
used to display either the same data, or data which could
easily be condensed down into a smaller number of figures.

The figure below highlights a perfect example of where
numerous charts could have easily been condensed down into
a single, more space-efficient chart, freeing up space for more
information to be presented.

Charts could be condensed down to create more space
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 80
4. Consider a simple structure

A complicated structure can often prove to be confusing, and
so draws attention away from the information itself. Worse, it
may also be difficult to follow, if the information is scattered
all over the dashboard without any indication as to the order
in which it should be viewed.

An extremely simple structure may therefore be the best
option if you want to present large volumes of data in a way
that does not overawe the reader.

One of the most common structures is a simple grid like the
one below, where the different elements of the dashboard are
neatly organised into equal sized sections.





A B
1 23 45
2 54 53
3 73 77
4 99 86
// Page 81
Simple grid structure
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
However, structures such as this have been criticised for being
too rigid, and for providing no indication as to where you
should begin to view the data.

This grid structure often contains a large number of unrelated
indicators, and because they are all of a similar size, there is
no indication as to which of them are of greater importance.

It can also be difficult to highlight links between related data
with such a rigid structure in place.


5. Consider structures that link data

5.1. Flow

// Page 82
Flow structure
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
A flow-based structure could be used to represent a sequence
of events that occur over time, or a chain of events that are
simultaneously linked to one another.


5.2. Relationship













Directly linking different sections of the dashboard can be an
effective way of highlighting the relationships between certain
pieces of data.








Relationship structure
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
// Page 83
Action Items:
Think about the information that you wish to prioritise.

Give information the space that it deserves.

Avoid devoting too much space to one data area.

Consider a simple structure such as a grid.

If you wish your dashboard to link data sets together
you may consider:
A flow structure to represent a sequence of
metrics.
A relationship structure to highlight how certain
metrics are dependent on one another.

In the next chapter we will look at the functionality of your
dashboard and how it will actually work. We will look at the
various tools and options that you may give to users to
improve this functionality.






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Once you have thought about the content and aesthetic
design of your dashboard, it is important to think about how
it will actually be used. There are a number of factors that
you must consider in relation to how users will interact with
your dashboard, and the features that they may expect to be
present.
CHAPTER 6:
Functionality
1. Drill down

The first view of a dashboard usually presents only a small
number of key metrics in order to give a simplified overview of
performance. This means that only a small snapshot of the
data is presented, and there may be times where much
greater depth is needed.

A great way to do this is to let users drill down into the
specific areas in which they wish to gain more information,
allowing them to access the more complex data which would
otherwise not be displayed.















Matillion Dashboard drill down
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Giving users the ability to drill down further through the data
allows you to save space on the main dashboard, without
sacrificing data volume or quality.

Different users will undoubtedly require different levels of
detail, so this flexibility allows users to optimise the value that
they extract from your dashboard.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
2. Filters

Filters can help to give the user more control of what
information they want to be displayed on the dashboard.
Filters could apply to the information that is displayed on the
dashboard as a whole, or to the order in which it is displayed,
or even the composition of individual metrics within this.

Filters can help you to easily view the data that you want to
see based on particular categories and values. Filters can
also be used to sort the data based on variables such as
size and date.
Example Filters
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
3. Alerts

When designing a dashboard it is important to consider how
much feedback users will be given in relation to the data. The
meaning of the data and the subsequent actions that must be
taken are largely subject to individual interpretation.

However, it can be beneficial to be made aware of significant
developments in the data that may require urgent attention.

Alerts can be a great way to get the users attention,
particularly when dramatic changes in the data may be taking
place.

The user should have a great deal of control of why, where,
and when these alerts occur, so that they do not become
unwarranted. They should be able to base alerts around a set
of pre-determined dimensions so that they only occur when a
metric reaches a particular level.

There are a number of ways in which alerts can be used.

One of the most common ways of alerting users is through
the use of conditional formatting in order to highlight
sections of the data that are considered to be most important.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide

Examples of uses for conditional formatting include:

Highlighting negative numbers in red.

Highlighting over- or under-performance.

Categorising numbers with colours or formats to reflect
their meaning.

Highlighting outliers in the data.
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Conditional Formatting
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
An article by Juice Analytics outlines a few of the major
considerations surrounding alerts.

These considerations are:

Are the parameters well defined?

Is the timing of the alerts actionable?

Is the change statistically significant?

Are the alerts too frequent?

Is it clear what the user should do next?

Is colour used appropriately?

Can the user adjust the parameters?

Can the user analyse alert frequency and trends?
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Source: Juice Analytics, A Dashboard Alerts Checklist, 2008

How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
4. Edit/ Save

The importance of these functions depends heavily on the
amount of freedom that you give to your users in terms of
manipulating and editing the data on your dashboard.

If the user frequently makes changes and customises their
data display to a high level of detail, then it is important that
they can save these changes in order to avoid wasting all of
the hard work that has been involved in doing this.

This also makes it significantly faster to access the information
again, when users log on at a future date.

5. Creating reports

One of the most important tools that a dashboard must
contain is the ability to create meaningful reports from the
data on display. After all, data is useless if it cannot be used to
produce meaningful and actionable insights.

A dashboard can allow users to create reports automatically,
and these can even be scheduled for particular times and
dates.

Dashboards may also allow users to export the data to other
devices, and into different software packages, which may then
be used to create more in-depth reports.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Action Items:
Allow users to drill down for a deeper insight.

Give the user more control through the use of sorting and
filters.

Consider the use of alerts, in order to draw the users
attention to particular aspects of the dashboard.

Think about the important factors surrounding these
alerts.

Think about how the user will be able to edit and save
changes that they make to the dashboard.

Think about how the user will be able to create reports
using your dashboard.

In the next chapter we will look at some real life examples of
good and bad dashboards to highlight the issues that we
have raised in the previous chapters.






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To gain a better understanding of what makes a good or bad
dashboard, it can be helpful to look at some real-life
examples.

These examples highlight some of the positive and negative
qualities that we have looked at in greater detail throughout
this e-book.
CHAPTER 7:
Real life examples of good and bad
dashboards
Good Dashboards

1.


Wave Dashboard
This dashboard from Wave is a great example of how a
simple structure can be used to display information
effectively. The dashboard looks visually appealing, but does
not draw attention away from the data itself by using
distracting and unnecessary graphics.

The colour scheme used throughout the dashboard helps it
to look bright, clean and clear.

The amount of data presented in each graph is sufficient to
provide value, without looking cluttered and hard to
interpret.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Wufoo
Another good example is this dashboard from Wufoo.

This is a great example of a dashboard, which provides the
user with the ability to drill down and gain much deeper
insights as they make their way down the dashboard.

The dashboard has a flow structure which allows the user
to select the area of interest, and then allows them to see
key metrics in terms of variables such as country, region
and city.

The dashboard also effectively incorporates filters which
allow the user to view data based on time scales such as
day, month, year-to-date, or the last twelve months.
2.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
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Fox Metrics
This final example of a good dashboard comes from Fox
Metrics.

This dashboard is also very clear and well structured.

The dashboard incorporates a significant amount of
data, taking the form of numerous different data
visualizations, and yet is does not look cluttered.
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3.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Bad Dashboards

Examples of not-so-good dashboards are more easily found.


This London City dashboard attempts to present far
too much information in a small space, and has ended
up looking extremely cluttered and distracting.

There are too many distracting colours, many of
which serve no real purpose, and this draws focus
away from the data itself.

There are also far too many different types of data
visualization on the dashboard, with no clear linkage
between them.
Citydashboard.org
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1.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
The main problem with this dashboard from Dundas is
that the same colour scheme is used for both the pie
charts at the top and the bar charts at the bottom.

On first glance the user therefore assumes that there
is some kind of link between the two, and associates
the coloured sections of the pie charts with the
respective coloured bars below. In fact the two sets of
information are not the same, and therefore the colour
scheme used only complicates things further.

A further fault is the use of 3D effects on the pie
charts at the top. In an attempt to make the charts
look more visually appealing, the creator has actually
made it more difficult for the user to read and
interpret.
Dundas
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2.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Finally, this dashboard by the Transportation Improvement
Board highlights how dashboard design can often go
wrong.

The fill effects that have been used on the pie chart in
the top left hand corner are completely unnecessary,
and make it difficult to interpret the size of each slice.

More worrying is the fact that there is a legend to the
right of it as well as a number of data labels
underneath. This makes it extremely difficult to
interpret what the chart is actually displaying,
especially at first glance.
Transportation Improvement Board
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3.
How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
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CHAPTER 8:
How your finished dashboard should
look
Useful Note
Here at Matillion we have years of experience of building
dashboards for our clients.

Working together we can help tailor a business dashboard
to your companys specific requirements, giving you greater
control over how it looks and performs.
Example of a Matillion Dashboard
This is a basic example of how your business dashboard could
look with Matillion Business Intelligence.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Matillion Dashboard Analysis
Company logo is present, but does
not take up an excessive amount
of space on the dashboard.

Effective use of sparklines to
represent large volumes of data in
a relatively small amount of space.

Simple fonts and appropriate sizes
to allow increased legibility.
Simple colour scheme used to
differentiate between the data
sets.

Appropriate use of integers and
scale for the axes.

Data legend is clear and easy to
interpret.

Separate colour scheme to
previous visualizations, in order to
avoid inappropriate linkage.

Different shades of colour used to
differentiate products, as opposed
to gradient fills or distracting
visual effects.

Space between bars allows easy
comparison.
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How to Create Compelling Business Dashboards - Complete Guide
Use this checklist to help you successfully plan, design and
implement a successful dashboard.

1. Factors to consider before you start
Know what type of data you are working with, and how
frequently it will be updated.
Think about how many users there will be, and the level
of experience that they will have.
Consider what platform(s) your dashboard will be viewed
on.

2. Think about what to include on your dashboard
Start by defining what exactly your dashboard is trying to
achieve.
Gain an understanding of what your users want, in order
to know what is and isnt necessary.
Know what makes a perfect metric, and refer to some of
the examples for guidance.
Make sure that your metrics add value by allowing
meaningful comparison.


Final checklist
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3. Think about the aesthetics of your dashboard
Think carefully about the colours you use, and how much
colour is needed.
Think about how difficult certain colour combinations can
be to view, and the connotations that certain colours may
have.
Choose the right styles, fonts and sizes for any text that
appears throughout the dashboard.

4. What data visualizations and charts should you use?
Review the general rules for charts.
Review the tips on the different types of charts. This
includes bar charts, line charts, pie charts and
sparklines.
Think about the appropriate use of each type of chart
discussed.

5. How to structure a dashboard
Think about what information that you wish to
prioritise, and where it should be placed on the
dashboard for greater emphasis.







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Think about the amount of space that a data set requires.
Review the different templates for dashboard structure,
and the advantages that each structure can have.

6. Does your dashboard function well?
Evaluate the amount of control that you will be giving to
users in terms of filters and the ability to drill down
further for a deeper insight.
Evaluate the use of alerts and the important
considerations surrounding these.
Think about how your dashboard will allow users to
create reports.

7. Analyse real life examples of dashboards
Look for real-life examples of good dashboards, in order
to see what qualities they have, and how these could be
transferred to your own dashboard.
Look also for bad examples of dashboards, and think
about how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
Analyse the Matillion dashboard example for some tips on
what a successful dashboard should look like, once it is
finished.



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