Information dashboard design – Best Practices

I love data, and after a couple of research projects and ML algorithms I cannot disagree with the importance of information visualization. So do most of the businesses that utilize information dashboards on a daily basis to trace, understand or even analyze things.

Since, information dashboards are mainly an ‘Enterprise thing’, many lack the user experience end users deserve. The same way we get badly designed enterprise softwares, we get badly designed information dashboards too. It happens!

But it’s not all dark and gloomy. There are products like Toutapp, who provide awesome dashboard with the right user experience. Question is how can you do the same for your information dashboard? While, pointing out specifics is difficult, there are some general rules that could simplify the user experience.

Information dashboard design – Some general tips

Visual Consistency
Consistency is often a designer’s best friend, and a consistent user interface would help users rely more on recognition and less on recalling. If you don’t know the difference already, recognition is better than recalling in this case. An excellent read on recognition and recall by nngroup.

Establishing hierarchy
While you are utilizing consistency in design to help a user easily move forward without having the need to recall much, you still need to separate the most important information from the rest. Imagine a case when to navigate to the most important section a user has to look at each section and read all text to identify them.

Edward Tufte’s design principles
Often regarded as the god of information visualization, what Luke Wroblewski is to design of forms – Edward Tufte is for data visualization. He recommends to optimize data-ink ratio, reduce chartjunk and myriad of other data visualization parameters that great simply complex information in a very easy to digest form. Here’s a good read on Tufte’s principles that you can include in your design.

No calculations
Dashboards are designed for a reason – To present the data in a digestible way. If your information dashboard design makes a user perform calculations then it probably isn’t doing the job right. Therefore it is recommended that you design while keeping the end user in mind. This will take care of all pains and frustrations of the user.

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