November 3, 2020
Creating a useful and easily understandable dashboard to tell a content operations story takes a unique blend of scientific skill and artistic creativity. Both parts are equally important in order to convey the proper message to your users.
From a science standpoint, yes, it’s important to make sure the data is accessible, accurate, and includes information that actually answers a user’s question. Equally important is the ability to render that information so the user isn’t overwhelmed and can easily identify what they’re looking at and how it answers their question.
Building a content dashboard that easily and intuitively answers your user’s questions is an art. Whether you’re using Excel, PowerPoint, PowerBi, Tableau, or any other type of data visualization tool, these three tips will help you create a powerful, useful dashboard that your users love.
We won’t go into metrics here, because that’s a different discussion, but, right now, we’ll focus on three tips that will help you effectively design a dashboard to highlight content performance.
First, let’s take a look at a less than stellar example of a Content Performance Dashboard focused on Download Summary.
Example of a Content Download Summary Dashboard that’s difficult to parse.
That dashboard has a lot of information presented in a lot of different ways.
If I were a new user to this dashboard I would have no idea what this information was telling me unless I really studied it chart by chart and made some assumptions.
Aside from the purpose of each included chart it’s not entirely clear what the different colors mean (and is the red in one chart relevant to the red in another chart?), what exactly are all the numbers. If I hadn’t told you this was a Content Download Summary Dashboard what would you think?
Now let’s take a look on another version of the exact same data.
A clearer, more streamlined version of the previous dashboard.
The same data presented a different way can improve the usage of your dashboard by making it easy to understand the data at a glance. Any dashboard that isn’t easy for your user to understand probably needs help.
Which brings us to some quick tips on making your dashboard more user friendly, make its data clearer, and increase usage of the dashboard overall.
1. Make it simple.
People can have pretty short attention spans when it comes to trying to read things quickly.
According to HubSpot, once a reader opens your email they will generally try from 2-8 seconds on average to determine what the email is about and if they’re interested.
Think of a dashboard in the same way—you want your users to understand its purpose quickly so they can then make a decision if they’re interested in the details. Some ways to do this include:
|Axis Labels and Data Point Labels||Axis Labels Only|
2. Choose the right colors.
With access to so many different color palettes it’s important to choose the right colors that are not only pleasing to look at but also help convey the right message.
3. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Bonus Tip: The Golden Rule of Content Dashboard design is to design with your audience in mind.
Think of how people in general digest information and design for that, not against it. People usually like to consume information from broader to more detailed starting from top to bottom and left to right. If you’re constantly in a battle to explain the data in a dashboard and fielding questions you may need to rethink some of your design.