Dashboards are essentially a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more goals. So, it’s no wonder that everyone strives to create intuitive dashboards to help users make better data-driven decisions.
During our recent dashboard design trends webinar (which you can listen to on demand here), there were a lot of great questions that were weren’t able to get to, and we wanted to make sure we addressed them all.
So, with the help of our Logi UI experts, we’ve shared our thoughts below.
Do different languages or cultures dictate different design techniques?
Felipe: No. Data is a universal language.
Mary and Philip: Yes. Different cultures have different intuitive understandings of various colors. Importantly, left-to-right vs right-to-left vs top-to-bottom matter a lot.
Is there a general rule of thumb on color palette limit?
Philip: I would only give the user choices that work well together. If there’s a theme applied, maybe offer 3, 5, 10 colors that a designer has chosen to look good alongside each other.
Mary: You need to keep in mind that everyone (and every device) sees color differently. If you have a palette with 7 shades of blue for example, most people will have trouble distinguishing one blue from another.
Do dashboard design principles work across demographics? What best practices should you consider between older vs. younger people?
Mary: You should always know as much as you can about your audience before you start designing. For example, you should consider typography when designing for an older audience. It’s not enough to just make the text larger – you should also make sure you have good contrast so your text is easy to comprehend. That being said, good readability can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of age.
How does one gauge when iconography is best vs. actual text usage?
Mary: In most cases a text representation is preferred over using icons. A good example of this is the “save” icon – when is the last time you had to use a floppy disk? Icons can mean different things to different people. The “X” icon can mean “close” to someone and “delete” to someone else. Moreover, if you are designing for an international audience, text can be a lot easier to translate than an icon.
What is the best suggestion for parsing down data to put just the essentials in the dashboard?
Mary: You should always know what your audience is really looking for before you design a dashboard. For example, are they looking for a list of numbers or are they looking at whether or not a goal is being met? If the former, then a line or column chart would work, if the latter, a gauge may be a better solution. You want to focus on what your user’s end goal is.
What is the best way to test whether your dashboard will be quickly understood be a variety of audiences?
Mary: Any testing is better than none at all, and the earlier in the process the better. There are many resources available online, if you don’t have the time or money budgeted asking a few co-workers for feedback will help you tremendously. Just be sure those co-workers aren’t working on your dashboard so they can give you an objective opinion.
Believe it or not, we have more questions that we plan to address in a second post – so stay tuned.