4 Steps to Designing an Effective Business Dashboard

Using a business dashboard is a useful way to measure and improve your business with real-time insight. But before creating an effective business dashboard you need to design it carefully.

These 4 steps will help you design an effective business dashboard that is useful and valuable for your business.

Anyone can put a bunch of numbers, graphs and charts on a page but an effective business dashboard tells a story and provides real value to the viewer.

Without the proper forethought and intentional design a dashboard loses its purpose and becomes nothing more than a collection of pretty charts and graphs.

So how do you carefully and thoughtfully design a dashboard that will propel your business forward?

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Designing An Effective Business Dashboard

There are 4 key components to designing an effective business dashboard.

Answer these four questions and you will be able to build a compelling and valuable dashboard.

Who will use the dashboard?

Every dashboard has one or more individuals who will use it on a daily or weekly basis to evaluate the performance of the business.

Deciding who the dashboard is designed for will inform decisions about what data or metrics need to be included and what questions those individuals want to be able to answer by using the dashboard.

It’s also critical to include these individuals in the design phase so that they can communicate their needs to ensure that the end result is valuable to them.

What will they use it for?

Typically a dashboard is used to track progress towards one or more goals and the charts, graphs and metrics indicate how much progress has been made and if progress is falling behind where it should be.

Determine the purpose behind the dashboard – what are the users of the dashboard hoping to accomplish by creating and using a dashboard? What is the driving force behind creating it in the first place?

How often will they use it?

Since dashboards provide a real-time glance into the performance of your business they are most commonly used on a daily or weekly basis. Understanding the frequency that the dashboard will be used will help with choosing the right metrics to be tracked.

For example, if the dashboard is going to be used on a weekly basis then daily metrics aren’t relevant and can instead be compounded or averaged into a weekly metric.

What metrics matter most to them?

Now that you have a good understanding of who will use the dashboard, for what purpose, and how often you can answer the most important question – what metrics matter most to the people using the dashboard?

The marketing department would find a dashboard of marketing metrics useful but the finance department has a wholly different set of criteria when it comes to useful metrics.

You can answer these questions yourself, with a few key people or with your entire team.

This last question is critical – deciding which metrics matter most is the hardest to answer but also the most important and in the next post I’ll share a simple and effective exercise that you can use to figure out exactly which metrics are most important.