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Article: 10 Essential Rules for Creating a Dashboard Design

10 Essential Rules for Creating a Dashboard Design

There are a few things and essential rules to consider when creating an effective dashboard design for your project. Let's find out more about it!
Created by Rafsan Sam |

With the rise of digital display and presentation, the idea of using visual images for business is getting more attractive. In this case, you might hear the new term of a project called a dashboard design. It is one of the surfacing visual display plans that highlight the most important information in the presentation. 

The function of the dashboard mostly covers details that lead to certain objectives. And all of the information will be consolidated and arranged on one single screen. Is it possible to entice people to focus on the design? Yes. With the proper way to create a dashboard design, it is possible to achieve the primary information even at a glance. How? Read these rules for you. 


The Rules That Will Help You Compile The Best Dashboard Design

1. Determine The Purpose 

There are many cases where designers need to pay attention to purpose. It also applies to the dashboard's rules. So, when you are working for a company or you are going to make one for yourself, ensure you get the idea of what the purpose is. Most of the time, people will do this project for business specifics. 

The best one is for a presentation or company introduction. When you are doing a presentation, you are not only giving information. But, you might want to achieve something for it. So, what is it? Why do you need to make a dashboard? Do you need to explain something or display information altogether? Your design rules will depend on the answer. 

In this case, dashboard design, in general, comes in many purposes and possibilities. So, designers can make one for whatever reasons, such as operational, strategic, analytical, tactical, or others. However, you can shrink down the options into two forms of the dashboard. As you know the purpose, you will also be able to lay out the proper rules.  

Created by Dmitry Krivonosov |


1.1. Analytical 
The first design purpose that mostly appears in the form of a dashboard is analytical. The name tells everything. It is also pretty explanatory. So, for this purpose, your dashboard design rules are pretty simple. The highlight is to provide data as much as possible in one glance. However, the data and information should help viewers gather ideas and do analysis.

It does sound simple, but creating a dashboard design might sound pretty bumpy at this point. How so? One thing that you need to underline is the fact that the design should comply, gather, and provide all of the information needed. All of them should help people make decisions or analyses in one glance. In other words, it comprises compacted data. 

The idea of putting all of the data in one compact dashboard makes the rules harder to comply with. But, the good news is that this kind of purpose is less time-sensitive. Viewers can take a look at the information and take action. All goes to the point rules where you need to design a display that focuses on making sense and helps decision making.  

Created by Алексей Григорович |


1.2. Operational 
On the other hand, you also have an operational dashboard purpose. With different goals, you also need to face diverse rules. In the previous one, you need to compact all of the important data. Thus, people can make decisions from the information given. But in this one, the rules mostly focus on creating a quick engagement for a time-sensitive goal. 

To make it easier to understand, this kind of dashboard design can appear as the control room. It means that the data deviation for the user should appear clearly and quickly. It can include anything, such as statues, resources, and many more. With the rules rushing the viewer to make a quick decision, the information and display should be on point. 

How to do it? Both dashboard goals can reach users if it is made to satisfy users. Not many rules pay attention to how to make a personalization design. It means the dashboard should match the user's or viewer's point of view. In business and corporation, you will find ranges of tier, personality, and abilities. 

Creating a dashboard design that matches those tiers or levels of understanding helps convey the information better. As an example, the lower-tier manager might go better with the operational and simpler design. But for the higher management, such as the CEO, an analytical dashboard works better since they can react and take action accordingly. 

Created by Sigma Software |


2. Add The Sense Of Personalization, Not Customization 

As said before, you will need to personalize your design. But, the rules are not limited to purposes or the viewer's role. In this modern-day, many systems can help you create something that matters for yourself. You can do the same with dashboard design. However, you need to underline the difference between personalization and customization rules. 

In this design, the rules of the two terms can make a different impression. Customization helps you make a dashboard that truly captures your needs. However, the rules of this term only make you lose the reason for making one. In other words, you only avoid tedious processes and build one that fits the goal. So, customization might not be the best option for your design. 

But, there are cases where the customization rules can make your work better. The answer comes if you use personalization rules before customization. So, in personalization, you will work and use the system. The system will help your way of creating a dashboard design that fits the viewer's needs. 

Created by Kateryna Levytska |
The rules include creating a dashboard that displays functionality, experience, or content matching the viewer role. The best example is the CEO and the project manager. Due to the different roles in the organization, both will need disparate data. It works faster, and you can make it work according to your goal. 

The idea of personalized mostly focuses on the content and data. But, your customization rules will come as a user-made configuration. In other words, some alteration that the system cannot simply do. You can include the dashboard design customization in the form of layout, system functionality, the content configuration.  

Created by Elen's Designs |


3. Create Interactive And Correctly Aligned Data

Related to personalization and customization, one of the most critical rules when creating a dashboard design is interaction and alignment. The points also relate to your layout and reading flow design. But, let's talk about the interactive aspect of this project. The feature comes as a solution if you need to present a lot of facts.

Stating and cramming everything in one single display will only make your design lackluster and unappealing. It also brings down the readability. So, what should you do? Use the interactive feature. It is one of the rules that you can use to show a long list of information such as the client's ID, contact, last activities, status, and many more. 

You can use a data table or scrolling feature for that specific info. Doing so also helps you take care of the alignment. You don't need to make a huge chunk of boxes in your display, but you can save some space. Interactive features in the dashboard allow you to add scalability, comfortable working grids, development, and many more. 

Created by Dmitry Krivonosov |


4. Pay Attention To The Lay Out And The Reading Flow 

If the interactive feature helps you to align the data, you also need to consider the dashboard layout and flow. The three rules go hand in hand with your progress when creating a dashboard design. In this case, the rules that you need to follow are a priority. The use of grids, boxes, and interactive features will help you create effective alignment. 

The ideas also make an invisible line between the design elements inside the dashboard. So, people where to go read and see your work. The point in this work relates to the composition. You need to follow the rules, understand the system, and make your dashboard design grid work seamlessly. 

While you are working on these rules, you have some highlights to jot down. The first one is that the left corner of the screen is the starting point. Many people will pay more attention to that part. So, you can create a dashboard design data alignment from the left side to the right. After moving horizontally, the reader will go to the next row to read more.  

If you have some information that has dependencies with others, make a layout that does not make people read back and forth. In other words, you can create a design that has a continuous flow. So, those are the rules that you will need to make people understand what you want to convey in the design. 

Created by Dima Plotnikov |


5. Choose The Representation Data

As you get the idea of the layout, flow, and personalization rules, you can move and choose the right data. One point to know about dashboard design is it will consist of multiple types of information in one single display. In other words, you might have to put a lot of data models in it, such as charts, visualization, text, static, or dynamic ones. 

The idea of choosing the best representation for your data can appear so daring and challenging. That is why you have some rules to help that process. The first thing that you need to do is to look at the document and the report. Take a look at what the report wants to tell. After that, you can decide on the visual representation for your dashboard.  

In these rules, you got some options to use. If your data is trying to show a comparison report, you can use a bar chart. If your data show a relationship, the graphs try to use graphs. There are also a lot of graph models, which can help explain dimensions, show the biggest to a smaller value, or compare multiple values in one chart. 

Created by Fronty AI |

Other than the basic types, you can also consider the composition and the display values. Sometimes, you need to consider the readability as well. In other words, you cannot choose the wrong one, or else the design will mess up. How about some unique types of charts, such as 3D chars, over-styled models, or visualization? 

One of the rules you need to pay attention to is avoiding charts that distract the viewer from the data. You also need to avoid visuals that have lower legibility. To help you get the best idea for creating a dashboard design, try to jot down some notes. Figure out the variable, the display among (item, groups, or time), and the data points for each variable. 

Created by walaa Tallaa |


6. Use The Consistent Naming 

After you get some ideas on the charts, try to determine the consistent naming on everything. This idea goes well to help your chart rules go smoothly. As an example, using the date-month-years format. Do the same for all information, so your dashboard information will create detail. 

Not only that but using consistent naming also helps you build a clear design framework. Consistency in your data also means the accuracy and effect on the decision making. You can also do the same for the printout or the physical data. Just because it's out of the dashboard, it does not mean you can use a different framework. So, be consistent. 


Created by Uinno Digital Agency |


7. Apply Building Blocks

In many cases, you might find yourself lost in the design process. It can happen, especially with a lot of data. In this case, you already learned about the layout and grid rules. You also know how to make the flow and help people read the dashboard. But, it can get out of control in a second when you are flooded with charts. 

So, what should you do? The best thing to do when creating a dashboard design is to use building blocks for your grids. The idea is familiar with the widget concept. So, the rules will help you arrange the info, controls, charts, and flow better. You can also call the idea of using card models for your dashboard. 

Card arrangement most likely helps your plan. The cards or block rules are also flexible and also responsive. In dashboard design rules, you can scale it up or down to show the content. In many cases, the idea is also moveable and alterable. So, if you want to add more information or delete some, you don't need to make adjustments. 

However, the layout and consistency rules also apply to this idea. Since it is flexible, it does not mean you can over customize and make everything look lackluster. Try to pinpoint the specific location to highlight the data. Using cards also means better interactive features. You can expand or make data smaller without affecting other boxes or grids. 

Created by Dusan Kovacevic |


8. Adding Double Margins 

The idea of using double margins goes to the most general design rules, white space or negative space. When people look at a lot of information at one, a small gap on the edges makes it harder or unappealing to see. However, a double margin can make a lot of difference in your work. Creating a dashboard design with double margin can be your solution to increasing legibility. 

Remember that you are going to show copies, text, numbers, or values on the dashboard. So, better consistency in margins work can make a small but significant difference. Remember that negative space also adds breathing space or a small-time to break when reading. It can turn into a huge advantage in your design. 

Created by Shailesh khatik |


9. Avoid Too Much Interaction 

Yes, you can add more information by using interactions in the dashboard. But, do you need it? Remember the main rules and function of the design is to highlight the most significant data. So, you do not necessarily need to show everything and hide it inside interaction. Sometimes, quick information that appears as it is is what you need to convey the message. 

The rules on this idea are to limit your interaction feature. Only use it on important data that might need more explanation. Other than that, don't. Being too engrossed in the interaction, such as scrolling down, scaling, or zooming, might distract people from the main data. To answer the solution, you better know the priority for your dashboard design. 

Created by Susanna Musheghyan |


10. You Need To Design The Dashboard As The Last Part 

Until this point, you can see how many rules that you need to pay attention to when creating a dashboard design. It means the work is not a simple thing to do. At some point, it can take time to finish. In this case, you can put the design effort at the end of your work. Try to work on determining the data, make a summary, and choose the charts beforehand. So, the design rules and progress can go smoothly. 

Created by Захар Палазник |


Final Words

Considering how dashboards gain more attention these days, people or business workers need to think further about their design rules. It is especially true since the term refers to a simple presentation that captures all imperative information. So, your decision on shape, arrangement, data, naming, and other rules will benefit your presentation.

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