Dashboard design is adapting. What once was simply an interface between the user and a dataset has now evolved into a full-fledged platform, and in some cases dashboards have become complete enterprise products.
This kind of enterprise integration also is being combined with a more user-centric design, as seen in the latest update from Google Analytics. By building dashboard tools with users in mind from the start, Google has developed a more flexible dashboard solution. In a recent post for Search Engine Land, Daniel Waisberg noted:
This is probably one of the biggest hits of the release: the capability to create multiple dashboards, each containing any set of graphs. This is a much wanted feature, especially for large organizations, where employees have very different needs from the tool. Now dashboards can be set by hierarchy, department, interest or any other rule.
Ken Hilburn, VP of community enablement at Juice Analytics, broke down the basics of great dashboard design in an interview at Strata. He said the key is to combine three basic tiers of function and then socialize them:
Dashboards are in an evolutionary phase right now. I think that the top level is sort of high-level key indicators that bring focus and draw attention, letting the user know that they need to pay attention. Beneath that, there’s dimensions and measures that give context to those metrics — do I want to know more about sales, more about global warming, or temperature increases — including the context around that and what those key metrics mean. The third layer would be detailed data for further exploration and communication.
Then, you can wrap those components into a dashboard. You want to have things like global filtering. You want to have the ability to socialize that — you want to be able to take a snapshot or annotate it, or be able to ask people what they think and communicate back and forth.
You can watch the entire interview with Hilburn in the following video: