#1: Make Them Personalized and Relevant
Unless you’re designing dashboards for a single job function, they really shouldn’t be “one size fits all.” Instead, dashboards should be role-specific or even user-specific. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you create separate dashboards for each user. Instead, apply a role-based filter or “current user” filter to dashboard reports, which allows you to present each user with the precise information they need, all from a single dashboard configuration.
For example, an Incident Management dashboard could show each user:
- Incidents they have reported
- Incidents within their department
- Incidents where they are the assigned “owner” or “manager”
- Action items that require their attention
This level of personalization helps users focus on relevant information and take action as needed. And speaking of taking action…
#2: Keep Action Items Front and Center
Dashboards aren’t terribly useful if you only stare at them. Ideally, they should be a jumping-off point for deeper analysis or response. The reports displayed on a dashboard should be drill-down capable, meaning that users can click into specific elements for a deeper view. (For example, a user could click into a quadrant of a risk heat map to see the underlying data.)
Dashboards can also include work queues and quick links to common activities. For example, you might display open remediation plans by due date or a task list filtered for the current user. Additionally, you might enable users to submit requests, log issues, provide status updates or search content directly from the dashboard. All of these action items help users complete their work with greater efficiency.
#3: Avoid the Death Scroll
The fact is, if you bury information at the bottom of a lengthy dashboard, users will probably miss it. They may not scroll down (especially if they’re viewing the dashboard on a mobile device). So be selective about what you display on a dashboard. Keep the most important items toward the top, and eliminate non-essential information. You can also break up reports across multiple, targeted dashboards. Just remember that people don’t want to click around in search of information, so ensure that your dashboards are clearly labeled and organized in a logical sequence.
#4: Consider Mobile
Our smartphones are ingrained into every aspect of our personal and professional lives. According to a recent Gallup poll (as reported by RealSimple):
“Four in five smartphone users keep their phone close during all waking hours, and 63 percent keep it close even when sleeping. What’s more, people are checking it compulsively. More than one-third of employees checked their email on their phone, even outside of working hours. More than half reported looking at their phones multiple times an hour, and eleven percent even admitted to checking their phone every few minutes.”