6 Step Guide to Master Dashboard UX Design

Product Design
June 28, 2023

1. Dashboards are effective for making future predictions and facilitating better decisions based on an understanding of customer behavior.

2. There are 3 types of dashboards which include operational (real-time data), strategic (KPIs), and analytical (to identify trends over time).

3. A minimally designed dashboard is preferable to avoid cognitive load.

4. Present the insights and NOT the data.

5. Visualizing the insights in the correct format becomes crucial. Line (to detect changes) and bar graphs (to compare) are preferred over pie charts.

What is a Dashboard? 

Dashboards are the comprehensive overview of data that represents the goals of the business and the results that have been achieved. This at-a-glance graphical interface is a commonly used data visualization platform to get quick insights on required data. 

Dashboard interfaces

Before knowing how to implement an effective Dashboard UX Design, one must get familiar with the benefits that it holds:

Benefits of a Dashboard:

  • For effective Forecasting: With the data presented by the dashboard, businesses can make the right predictions about the demand that could be there in the future, thereby, getting them prepared, beforehand. 
  • To Improve Decision-Making process: “With great data insights comes the great sense of decision-making responsibility” Better decisions can be made by the business when the data is presented efficiently focussing on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • It saves a lot of time: Decisions can be made correctly based on the insights provided by the dashboard, thereby saving a lot of time by skipping the process of analyzing overwhelming amounts of data.
  • Real-time Data at your fingertips: In eCommerce websites, the business happening in real-time can be visualized effectively in order to see the customer behavior. This helps to take quick actions to keep the sales funnel smooth. 

All these benefits do not just come from having a dashboard. A dashboard is functional only when the right UX is implemented. But if you ask us how to achieve the efficiency, we’d ask you to read further:

How to implement an effective Dashboard UX Design?

6 step guide to master dashboard UX Design infographics

User Experience plays a crucial part while designing a dashboard. It does not just grab the attention of the user but it also stirs up interest within the user to keep them engaged to the dashboard over a period of time. With the scarce attention paid by everyone towards the screens nowadays, grabbing their attention at the first glance and serving the same experience throughout has become very essential. 

To keep things precise, we have come up with 6 detailed steps to bring about an effective Dashboard:

  1. Start with your Purpose

Before starting on your dashboard design, it is important to decide on what the purpose of the dashboard is. This is supposed to be the first step of designing an effective Dashboard UX Design. While there are too many categories of classifying the dashboards, we have listed three of them to keep things simple & clear:

The first type is,

  • Operational dashboards: This tells you what’s happening now. The purpose of operational dashboards is to let the user make quick decisions which make this type the “time-sensitive” one. To provide the users with valuable insights in real-time is the main objective of the operational dashboard. 
  • Strategic dashboards: These serve the purpose of tracking the key performance indicators of the business. Unlike operational dashboards, this need not be analyzed in real-time. Instead, this could be viewed once a day comfortably to keep track of the KPIs.
  • Analytical dashboards: These are the star performers employed to process the data in order to identify trends in it. For decision-making purposes, Analytical dashboards display the processed insights. Exactly opposite to that of operational dashboards, Analytical dashboards are not developed for taking quick actions. Instead, it is for the users to analyze the trend over a period of time and make the best decision out of it. 

When the purpose of the dashboard is finalized, the designer can move on to understanding the users. 

  1. Understand the Users 

In the world of UX, designing (not just for dashboards) means understanding what the user expects. Here, Understanding means getting into the user’s shoes and determine their needs. So as to achieve it, user research is conducted to collect the data. 

While the data collected can help the designer build a user persona, not everyone focuses on the “User Psychology” Unlike collecting data, knowing User psychology helps to understand the feelings and actions which gives the designer the power to make the users think/behave in a certain way, on purpose. 

It is highly recommended to go by this mantra - “Minimize Cognitive load to Maximise Usability” cause, providing only what is required for the users is the key to preventing them from getting overwhelmed by the data/complex functionality of the dashboard.

  1. Less Interactivity to gain more attention 

Users can only take up a certain amount of information and anything that crosses the limit can easily overwhelm them. This pressure that users feel during navigation and usage of a site to complete a task is the cognitive load. An effective UX puts things in the right place so as to avoid making the users feel confused. 

Visual representation of cognitive load theory

Tips to Reduce Cognitive Load on Users:

  • Use simple language to convey Instructions
  • Usage of Minimal design (De-Cluttering)
  • Understand how users read their data and display accordingly
  • Implement consistent design to create a sense of familiarity (which indirectly builds familiarity to your brand name)

The motive of the Dashboards is to convey key information to the users. So, it is better if extensive scrolling and interactivity are expected from the user end. Try to keep the information minimal. Because the users often tend to focus more on the data on the top and the data at the bottom goes unnoticed. 

Thus, only show minimal, but key information which could be done by the process of “Prioritization” which helps a great deal to reduce overwhelming the users. 

  1. Prioritize the Information  

A designer always carries the pressure of the “5 Second Rule” on their minds which motivates them to grab the user’s attention within 5 seconds and hold it throughout. If the user can’t find what they’re looking for, it might end up with a lower retention rate. 

As we have already discussed how humans can only pay attention for a small period of time, it is important to display ONLY what is required. Cause, With too much information, the user tends to take no action at all.

But how do you know what is needed and what is not?

This is where the user research you have conducted to understand the users comes into action. Make use of the data to identify the core information that will be most needed for the users. Prioritize that set of data on the top of the page.

Analysis Paralysis ALERT!

By giving too much information load on the users, they tend to overthink the data which delays the process of decision making. This mistake of giving too much information/choices to the user is known as “Analysis Paralysis”. 

Understanding the impact of cognitive load on users

Instead of putting in scrollable data beneath, we highly recommend you to provide just insights. Here, user interaction can be expected to reveal the insight data, which also helps in de-cluttering the main page.

  1. Insights >> Data

The reason behind why Insights are preferred over raw data is the reduced complexity of visualizing the information. While displaying the insights, how would you decide on what kind of insights can be beneficial for the user?

To begin with, Analyse the various aspects of the business goals and see which Key Performance Indicators align with the goals better. To visually represent the most relevant data based on the goals of your business, KPIs play a crucial role. 

Apart from the goals of the business, make use of the data obtained from your user research to determine what the user is looking for. This helps even better to choose the perfect KPI for your dashboard. 

Also, while providing insights to the user, make sure to add appropriate titles and comparison data for their clear understanding. 

  1. Appropriate way of Visualisation 

The data that is to be visualized on the dashboard can either be static, dynamic, or both. Choosing the right format to display the data is an important step while designing your dashboard. There are several types of charts to be chosen based on the data. 

data visualisation

For example, When there are minor changes in the data trends that need to be addressed, Line charts are preferred over bar charts. And Bar charts are used to compare data trends over the course of time (Note: time should always be followed in the x-axis). 

Also, Pie charts aren’t that effective when it comes to data visualization. It is because it gives a lot of opportunities to misinterpret the displayed data. Owing to the fact that areas and angles are difficult for humans to interpret, Pie and Donut charts are not usually recommended. 

One another type of chart that is better off to not be used is 3D Charts as they are difficult to read by the users. 

Thus, choose the right kind of chart based on the following factors:

  1. No. of variables considered
  2. In what way the variables are distributed and,
  3. Volume of data to be analyzed (No. of data points)

While making the dashboard look aesthetic and appealing is demanded at one side, the functionality of it can never be compromised at any point. Implement the above-given tips while designing your dashboard to make it an impactful one.

Read More:

Best UX Strategies for User Retention that Actually Works

Ecommerce UX Design Trends: Unlocking the Potential of Personalization


1. What is dashboard UX design?

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Dashboard UX design focuses on creating intuitive and visually appealing interfaces for data visualization and efficient user interaction.

2. How can I create a user-friendly navigation system for my dashboard?

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To create a user-friendly navigation system for your dashboard, prioritize simplicity, intuitive design, clear labeling, and logical categorization.

3. What are the fundamentals of dashboard design?

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The fundamentals of dashboard design include clarity, simplicity, relevant data, intuitive navigation, and effective visualizations.

4. How can I ensure a responsive and mobile-friendly design for dashboard UX?

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To ensure a responsive and mobile-friendly design for dashboard UX, use responsive frameworks, optimize images, and conduct thorough testing.

5. What are some common mistakes to avoid when designing a dashboard?

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Common mistakes to avoid when designing a dashboard include cluttered layouts, excessive data, lack of user testing, and inconsistent visualizations.