Visualize data with dashboards

1. Define the target audience and how they will use the dashboard.

Brainstorm which people in your organization need data for the work. Reach out to the stakeholders via e-mail, survey, or 1:1 meetings, and identify their data needs, for example: Top-level management report with key business KPI’s. Performance marketing dashboard for an overview of marketing campaigns. Sales dashboard showing sales performance of different products.

2. Create separate dashboards for the audiences with different data needs.

A top-management report, made for the CEO or C-level managers, should represent the top-level numbers and long-term trends. For example quarter over quarter and year over year sales in the USA. A performance marketing dashboard presents very granular data and metrics for daily optimization decisions, for example, sales and cost broke down by channel and day and ROAS broken down by channel and device category.

3. Use multiple chart types to show the data from different perspectives.

Bar charts or liens are good for representing trends over time, for example, total sales by quarter or leads by month. Filled maps are good for representing geographical data. Use the colors accordingly, for example, use darker color palette for regions with higher sales. Pie charts or donut charts are good for representing proportions, for example, product category sales as % of total sales. Tables are suitable for representing detailed data, for example, a list of Google Ads campaigns with most important metrics such as Cost, CPC, Revenue, Transactions, and ROAS.

4. Use filters to make the dashboard interactive.

Use a date filter to adjust the date range presented in the view. Use filters to allow the users to display a specific dimension of data. For example, in a sales dashboard you can add an option to filter the data for a specific location on a product category. Use parameters to allow the user to switch between different metrics, for example, in a sales dashboard you can add the option to switch between the unit sales and revenue.

5. Add titles and subtitles to the dashboard, and all the charts in your dashboard to describe the data that you are showing.

Name all the measures and dimensions presented in the view. For example, Title: Online sales in USD over time Subtitle: Broken down by traffic source.

6. Add Data labels or tooltips to your charts to describe the data that the user is looking at.

Data labels will make it more understandable for the user. For example, on a pie chart representing total sales broken down by 3 product categories, add category name and sales amount to the view. Add tooltips with additional information that pops up when the user hovers over data on the chart. For example, if somebody hovers over the December 2020 column in the sales bar chart, the tooltip can say, Total sales in December 2020: 20.000$.