The right way to build a dashboard

The hallmark of a data-driven dashboard is the ability to see and understand data at the speed of thought. Well-planned dashboards will allow both business leaders and knowledge workers alike to ask and answer questions in real-time, turn insight into action and inspire true innovation.

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How can you improve the previous dashboard and ensure that it loads quickly? Can the cross-tab be eliminated in order to reveal what is important in this data? A more effective dashboard conveys the information with less noise and provides details on demand

The dashboards shown in figure 8.2 uses a bar chart to provide a more  precise comparison of sales by product sub-category (color-encoded bars). The time series combination of line and bar chart at the bottom provides sales by month (bars-color encoded gray and black for a 5 percent profit threshold) and year-to-date sales by product category (color-encoded lines matching  the bar colors in the upper right corner of the dashboards provides summary information by region).

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The use of gray-scale to depict a profit ratio threshold in the time series combination line and bar chart provides additional insight into overall profitability. Dark gray is used to highlight product categories and months in which the profit ratio is under 5 percent.

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User dashboard

Figure 8.2: A dashboard using simpler views

The headings contain dynamic elements denoting the regions, product  categories, and sub-categories that have been selected using filter actions embedded in the bar chart and region crosstab. The dashboard has been filtered for the central and southern regions as well as at the technology and office supply product categories. These selections are highlighted in the bar chart and region cross-tab .

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This dashboard communicates more effectively by removing clutter and unnecessary details. The audience for this dashboard might include senior managers and regional sales staff. This design would serve both groups.

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