Dashboard Design Rules 101

Download Printable VersionAn interviewer once Asked the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright if he'd ever wished for a fabulously wealthy client with unlimited resources so that Wright could design the house of his wildest imagination. Wright's response was, no he hadn't, because it was great limitations that resulted in his most creative and beautiful designs.

Dashboard report design is very similar. There is limited space to convey important information and there is limited time to capture the reader's attention. Like a Wright home, dashboards have to be elegant, imaginative and functional, to draw the user past the threshold and deliver an experience that is visually appealing as well as meaningfully informative.

Keep these principles in mind the next time you are faced with the need for a new dashboard design:

1. Think Studio Apartment

A studio apartment is a small space in which each item serves a purpose; nothing is extraneous. The basic tenets of dashboard reports are very similar. A dashboard report helps people to:

Visually identify and monitor at a glance
on a
single computer screen or report page
most important trends, patterns, and variances
needed to
think and reason
make informed decisions.

2. Good Construction Matters

Just like good construction matters when a house is being built, it also matters when creating a dashboard report. A poor structure and cheap finishes may get the job done quickly, but eventually the shoddy work will show.

When building dashboard reports:

When designing your dashboard:

3. Downsize

There is a clear trend in the U.S. housing market toward smaller, more sensible homes. We want our needs met and we still love beautiful homes—but we want something much more manageable.

The same is true in our work lives. We are bombarded with information and we want a simple way to get the information we need in order to make informed decisions.

Take the Frank Lloyd Wright approach to creating your dashboards. Use the intriguing limitations imposed to find creative ways to communicate all of the information you need to make the reports useful and beautiful.