Know all… just in a glance. That is dashboard for you. There is no better access to information than this one. Yes, a dashboard is a tool that gives real-time quick display of data and information in a website or an app.

Actually, it is a user interface consisting of information like analytics, stats, messages, schedules, and others, which in fact, is designed to enable interaction with the back-end, so that the users can access and modify information easily. It is somewhat like a control panel that provides all the data to execute functions on a site or app.

Visualizing data can be a tricky task for designers, thus, dashboard designing is the hardest part of creating an application.

Be it online business applications or plain mobile apps, it all depends on the skill of data presentation; and above all, what to include and exclude. It is important to have intuitive and all-knowing dashboards to create a powerful user experience.

Giving an all-encompassing view, dashboard helps to increase productivity for the ardent users of a website or an application. There are various types of dashboards that help to gain insights, namely analytic dashboards, key performance indicator (KPI) dashboards, productized application dashboards and business intelligence (BI) dashboards.

Remember that besides having a stylish and user-friendly layout, it should perform well and help to understand critical information about the business. To help you in designing an incredible tool, here are some tips for creating a fantastic UI design, so that you can easily present significant data to your users that they truly understand-

1. Simplicity Works

When it comes to design, it is best to keep it clean and simple. One trait of an interactive UI is that it isn’t difficult to understand for the users.

Keeping usability in mind, it is possible to create a simple, user-centric dashboard that is ruled with high functionality. We recommended that you break down the product’s functions into main segments and then use them to craft your interface’s design.

If your product is loaded with features, then segregate them and form a modular layout so that the users can take their pick from it. Remember, simple designs are better accepted than crammed designs, always.

2. Determine The Objective

You must determine the objective that you want to accomplish with your product or business. As it is this objective that becomes the deciding factor for your dashboard.

For instance, you may have an objective of attaining 10,000 signs in the next 8 months or to get 20,000 video views in the next 2 months, thus your dashboard will take form accordingly. Fixing objectives brings into consideration the key metrics that are to be included as against the irrelevant ones.

3. Research Well

UX Research
As goes the rule-of-thumb for every UX project, research so that you know your cards well. The user is of utmost importance in the design world and you must have complete knowledge about them to execute your design with usability.

Gather information about the user base that includes general age, gender, and the preferred interests so that you can take a good hold of them. Your dashboard should be framed keeping in mind the main functions of the application and the frequency with which it serves the user.

Don’t be in your own world and explore what other applications in the market have in store for their customers. This certainly doesn’t mean that you copy other applications rather you must take a hint on what the jumping off point is in your case. Anchor your direction and then there should be no stopping you!

4. Take Control With KPIs

Be it health-oriented apps or study online analytics software, all the applications revolve around some key performance indicators. Google Analytics records the conversions and traffic rate whereas MyFitnessPal keeps a check on the calories consumed and burned.

Keeping a track of your key performance indicators (KPIs) is the sure shot way to design a dashboard that will become users’ pet. KPIs must be the first thing that captures visitors’ attention when they start exploring your app; it should be the prime focus of your interface design.

Browse through applications, say Twitter or Google Analytics and observe how they form KPIs, such as by way of recent tweets or account activity or even conversions, traffic, etc., whatever is the main focus of their dashboards.

5. Stick To The Known

Now, we are fairly acquainted with some features of UI design for websites. These are common and have been accepted for long, much like social media network has a feed for recent updates.

People are used to such features and even expect them in applications. Instead of using revolutionary stuff in your dashboard, include features that have been common to your application to fire up the design process.

Dropdown notifications or top-right corner account menus have been well-known and should be present in UI design. The UI design clichés are referred to as UI patterns and should be incorporated to pace up your design process.

6. Convey With Colors

Using great color sequence is the key to great user interfaces. Remember to use colors when you want to inform or notify the users about tasks, activities, features and other things through button colors and alerts. Also, it is best to use conventional and common colors on your application. Green always implies that everything is fine whereas orange and red are used to symbolize small or serious trouble.

7. Focus On The Platform

The main aim should be to allow maximum interaction to your users with the application. Can they view it on iPad, PC or their smartphone? It is important to evaluate the platform and then make the dashboard responsive so that it can work in multiple environments. If you want a powerful user interface, go for the most widely used platform.

Designs vary according to platform, like for tablet apps large buttons are required to make it user-friendly. You can use Google Analytics to assess different types of devices that are used to view your website and then design as per the most preferred platform.

8. The Fewer, The Better

As explained earlier that if you keep your design simple and clean, you will definitely churn out an awesome user interface. Going with this principle, it is always good to have fewer options in your dashboard as then there will be lesser problems encountered by the users.

If your interface is uncomplicated it is likely that you will receive lesser support tickets and emails. If you are aiming to have a fine balance between usability and power, include advanced features category to your dashboard. Power users can access advanced features with the help of this option at the same time you can create a straightforward interface for other users.

9. Distill Application

There is no point in burdening your application with things that are of no use and just cluttering it up further. Refine your dashboard with the most important functions so that you can distill it up to a superior product.

Application distilling is of great use to designers as it takes care of the requirements and wireframing processes together. You need to filter out the categories of features, navigations and metrics.

Make it competent by just sticking to the basic elements that are of much consequence in these categories. Application distilling will definitely make your dashboard more powerful and sorted for the users.

10. Group Together

It is logical to club the related information together so as to allow the user to figure and understand the connections between them. However, if you section the related elements on different pages or far apart from each other, chances are that your user will be confused and will not be able to gauge the meaning of the context in which the information is present.

11. Let The Users Choose

Is your application the one that has lot of data? It is seen that business applications such as analytics or advertising portions usually display tables with loads of cells, which in turn makes it difficult to highlight the significant data while going with the norms of simple design.

Avoid designing a complicated interface by giving your users the power to see what they would like to see. Enable filter and sorting features so that the users can organize large lists and even make tables a one-glance thing to view.

12.Visualize Right

Inappropriate visualization can harm your dashboard design to a great extent. It portrays wrong meaning, puts forth incorrect message and might as well confuse the user completely.

For instance, if you want to represent sales trend, choose a diagram that clearly distinguishes between the sales of different months rather than waste users’ time with percentage area that is not even required.

13. Step-By-Step Clarity

If you are witnessing half-way left shopping carts or forms, it is most likely that the interface has forms that are too lengthy or confusing for users to decipher.

Note, shortening your forms and splitting them into simple steps work a big deal in winning your customers. They don’t like tedious forms in any case and if your form order demands 20 steps to completion, it is better to break it down to four pages of five steps each. This way, you are ensuring optimum usability and thereby enhancing your chances of improved conversion rate.

14. Regular Feedback

We often assume that the users know the functions of the dashboard all by themselves. Designers think that the hard work that they have put in for weeks or even months will result in identical mindset with the users.

But in reality, even though some users know how to go about with the dashboard, the majority doesn’t have much clue about it. It is advisable to have a brief tutorial that describes the key features of your application so that you don’t have much support requests from new users.

For that matter, even frequent users require assistance with usage and go for feedback. As an example, Gmail has made it a point to assist the user by giving a ‘learn more’ tab on every feature, so that users are not confused and can learn how the application actually works.

15. For UX

The dashboard represents your application. So, it must be well structured and preferably without any jargons or difficult matter, if possible. Users like the language with which they are more comfortable.

Including dense terminology will harm as the user will end up assuming stuff which the brain cannot interpret. So, it is better to have natural language for an application to be able to speak directly to the user. It is seen that the users interact maximum with the dashboard as compared to the other portions of the application.

Now, as we know that this area is frequently used, so it makes sense if we pay attention to the slightest of details here. Make sure all the interactions and transactions are pretty fast. Users hate waiting and generally abandon what they don’t like without even giving any second chance. Give them a positive experience by fitting in all the elements in a user-friendly way.

Bottom Line

Dashboards have become the one-stop destination as it facilitates effective communication and instills valuable insights. It plays a vital role in making an application good or bad. Design your dashboard in a manner that it empowers the users to spot opportunities and make right decisions. An intuitive product will grant clarity and lead the customers in right direction. So, get to work, build a fantastic design and let your dashboard spell success!

Images Credit :

The following two tabs change content below.

Prince Pal

UI UX Consultant Helping Digital Startups & Stakeholders Grow Their Business at Think 360 Studio
For 15+ years I have designed, developed and marketed websites/apps startups in New York, California, Florida and in India. Always focused on great User Interface is key.