Dashboarding is an essential part of business analytics & reporting. Read this article to learn what dashboarding is and how to use it to achieve business goals.
What Is a Dashboard? Definition & Examples
A dashboard is a set of electronic reports. A dashboard gathers the data from different programs and apps, unites them, and displays the real-time data as diagrams, tables, or metrics. If the data changes, the dashboard will refresh the reports.
You can find dashboards in CRM software, analytical programs, web services, etc. For example, look at a sample dashboard in Klaviyo:
Why Dashboarding May Be Helpful For Your Business
Dashboards help gather data
Dashboards can be integrated with the programs which store and collect the data. If your company uses several programs of the kind, dashboards will gather the data from all of them and display it in one place. Thus, you will need to monitor just one dashboard instead of ten programs.
Dashboards refresh reports
Dashboards refresh the reports automatically as soon as the data changes. Thus, you can monitor your business and spot the changes in time.
Automated updates also save your resources: your employees won’t have to create reports manually.
Dashboards represent the data
Dashboards transform complicated tables into simple diagrams, graphs, and lists. As a result, the data is easier to comprehend.
Dashboards find issues in business processes
Dashboards let you monitor different business processes: sales, supplies, HR, marketing, etc. Dashboarding helps companies evaluate the work of all the departments in the company.
If the reports show that some departments can’t handle their work (e.g., revenue drops, KPIs are not achieved, etc.), managers see it and try to fix the situation.
Elements of a Dashboard
A dashboard usually consists of three basic elements:
- Header. It’s the upper part with the name of the dashboard. Remember to give a dashboard a succinct name, so others can instantly understand the topic.
- Widget (the main part of a dashboard). This part includes graphs, diagrams, tables, maps, metrics, and so on.
- Footer. It’s the lower part of a dashboard that contains additional information: e.g., meanings of abbreviations, comments, conclusion, etc.
What Is the Difference Between a Dashboard and a Report
Let’s briefly review the difference between a dashboard and a regular report. A report is usually a table filled with metrics and numeric data. Unlike a dashboard, a report is not updated automatically.
4 Rules of Dashboarding: Follow Them to Create Effective Dashboards
1. Choose the key indicators
Key indicators are the values of metrics used by a company to understand how the business works. Choose the key indicators depending on your niche. For example, if you’re an ecommerce business, you’ll need to focus on sales, the number of calls, the number of returning customers, etc. If you’re a marketing agency, you’ll need to track the marketing metrics like CPC, ROI, CPA, and ROMI.
2. Keep it simple
Graphs, diagrams, and tables shouldn’t contain too many numbers and metrics; otherwise, a dashboard will be too complicated to comprehend.
It’s better to create topic-based graphs, tables, and diagrams. Thus, if a dashboard displays the advertising data, don’t add the HR data there.
3. Don’t make the dashboard overwhelming
The dashboard should display only those metrics that are used in practice. If you don’t need some metrics, just hide them to avoid overwhelming the dashboard.
4. Use the formatting
Dashboards should be easy to study and understand. That’s why you should use formatting: highlight the text and use colors and bold text for special segments.
4 Common Mistakes in Dashboarding
Mistake 1: Adding all the data to a single dashboard
If you place all the metrics used in your company on a single dashboard, the reports will be too complicated and hard to understand.
A dashboard should display only the metrics related to the same topic: for example, all the sales metrics, all the advertising metrics, the HR metrics, etc.
Mistake 2: Forgetting to plan the dashboard
You need to plan the content of the dashboard before creating the dashboard. At this stage, you should plan how the dashboard will look like, what metrics it will display, etc.
If you miss this step, you’ll need to create the dashboard on the spot. In this case, there’s a risk of forgetting important data or making reports that won’t be useful to your team.
Mistake 3: Too many colors
If you use too many colors for your graphs and diagrams, a dashboard will be hard to comprehend. That’s why we’d recommend using not more than three or four colors. Remember to pay attention to the colors of buttons, commentaries, and notes: they shouldn’t distract a user from the main content.
Mistake 4: Too many elements
If you add too many elements to the dashboard, you’ll have to reduce their sizes. As a result, the elements will be too small to study, and there’ll be a risk of missing important data.
Think about which graphs, tables, and diagrams are absolutely necessary for understanding the meaning of the dashboard; all the other elements shouldn’t be included.
Tools and Software for Dashboarding
There’re lots of tools for dashboarding: from specific platforms that can be integrated with other software to free tools for creating a simplified dashboard.
The most popular dashboarding tools are
Google Analytics. It provides free real-time dashboards with data about website traffic and user behavior. Google Analytics also provides ready-made widgets that can be adjusted to one’s business goals.
Google Sheets. It provides free tools for creating simple dashboards and collaboration. There are no ready-made dashboards in Google Sheets, but you can create graphs and diagrams on your own.
Google Data Studio. It’s a free platform for data visualization. You can integrate it with many data sources: for example, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Zoho CRM, and others. Google Data Studio has 14 widgets with maps, tables, and graphs for dashboarding.
Owox BI. It’s a paid platform that provides ready-made dashboarding templates. Owox BI can be integrated with Facebook Ads Manager, Google Analytics, Google Ads, CRM software, and so on.
Microsoft Power BI. It’s a cluster of data visualization programs that can be integrated with different platforms. Power BI automatically creates interactive dashboards using data from various sources.
- A dashboard is a system of reports that represents the data as graphs, tables, and diagrams. Dashboarding helps us understand and analyze large amounts of data.
- There are lots of programs that can create dashboards using ready-made layouts: for example, Power BI. You can also create a dashboard manually with free tools like Excel and Google Sheets.
- Dashboarding is used in industries like IT, ecommerce, etc. One can create dashboards for tracking specific business metrics.