6 dashboard design mistakes - and how you can avoid them
You are feeling good.
You’ve deployed your first dashboard and your users are very excited to see the pretty charts and dials.
They look at it frequently. They tell you how great it is, and you are the toast of data town.
Fast forward a few months…
Many users are now only checking it a few times a month. Some have stopped checking it all together.
“Why?” you ask them.
- “It’s hard to see what’s really going on.”....
- “It’s hard to find the information I need quickly”.....
- “It doesn’t change very often”.....
- “It tells me stuff I already know”....
- “I don’t have time”...
- “It sucks”....
How did you go from data hero to data zero so quickly?
The dashboard was supposed to give them an at-a-glance view of the key performance indicators they needed to monitor to improve their business.
It was supposed to save them time and add huge value.
So what happened?
Dashboards can fail for many reasons. But from our experience, the most common reasons are dashboard design mistakes.
These mistakes can relate to:
- what information is included or not included in the dashboard;
- how it’s organized on the dashboard or on different displays;
- how it’s filtered and navigated;
- how up to date the data is;
- what types of graphs are used to display different types of data; or
- what kind of contextual information (historical averages, targets, etc.) is or isn’t shown.
With this blog, I’m kicking off a series of posts that will detail the six most common dashboard design mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
I’m confident that, armed with this knowledge, you’ll be a data hero in your organization - not just on day one, but also on day 101 and day 1,001.
So what are the top 6 dashboard design mistakes?
Mistake #1 - Building a one-size-fits-all dashboard.
The “It sucks for everyone” problem
Mistake #2 - Not adding comparison values
The “So what?” problem.
Mistake # 3 - Poor layout choices
The “I can’t find the information I need” problem.
Mistake #4 - Using the wrong chart types (Spoiler alert - pie charts are not usually good on a dashboard.)
The “Not-so-at-a-glance” problem.
Mistake #5 - Misusing colour
The “dashboard is lit up like a Christmas tree” problem.
Mistake #6 - Making people do mental math
The “This is too much effort” problem
In the next blog posting, I’ll look at Mistake #1 - and how to avoid it.
Originally published November 16, 2015, updated Oct, 07 2019