Dashboard design isn’t something that designers typically focus on. However a dashboard that is easy to use and intuitive is sure to enhance the overall user experience, and is in fact extremely important.
What is a Dashboard?
A dashboard is a set of graphical menus and interfaces that give the user quick access to data and information, as well as simplify any editing processes they might need for a website or an app.
The dashboard design contains information like stats, analytics, schedules, messages, and more. It is basically a user interface that is designed to interact with the back-end of a website or an app, so that a user can make changes and access their info. It can be thought of as a control panel or an admin panel and gives users access to all the necessary data they need to be able to perform all the different functions on a website or application.
A good dashboards UI design will have an intuitive layout that makes it easy for users to control the site or app and make useful decisions. The advantages of good dashboards are that they truly stand out, and websites or apps with these dashboards will receive praise from users and also see increased usage.
Dashboard UI design is an opportunity to think of the unlimited possibilities to present data in a creative way. They are extremely useful to organise large amounts of data, navigate it, and finally interpret it so that we can use it in useful ways.
They are becoming extremely important in this digital age, as we are being bombarded with data from everywhere. Thus the best dashboards should organise data in such a way, that users can easily understand where the information is coming from.
Let’s look at some dashboard best practices, that designers should keep in mind.
Get to know your users
The first and foremost step to design good dashboards is to ensure that it is solving a problem for your user. It should have enough information to answer any questions that users might have, but also not so much that it overwhelms the user.
So the first step to designing a dashboard is to have a clear idea of who your audience will be and build a dashboard that is useful to them. Think of what their goals are, what they are trying to achieve and then build their objectives around them.
Don’t overwhelm users with data
Try and be extremely selective with the data that you present on the dashboard. Too much will overwhelm them and too little will not solve their problem. Users will not waste their time trying to understand large chunks of data that is useless to them. So ensure that you only keep the data that users really need and which is essential.
Start with a basic overview, but allow interested users to find more information
The first page of your dashboard should present the most essential information that your users need in an easy to understand way. If they need more information, they should be able to go to each individual section and find the information they need. This is only possible with visual hierarchy and quality design.
Use attractive data visualisations
Data visualisations are extremely useful in UI design to present data in the form of plots, charts and graphs and pie charts. These not only look visually attractive, they also help users understand and analyse the data. Keep things simple as too many visualisations may spoil the overall attractiveness of the dashboard.
The visualisations you choose will depend on the kind of data you are trying to present. In some cases pie charts may look better while graphs may work better in others.
Add interesting and functional animations
Modern dashboard design has been integrating animations to bring the design to life. Choose interesting animations that will bring your dashboard to life, such as preloader icons, custom messages, loading bars etc. But ensure that you use them sparingly and do not overdo it though, as too many animations will also not look good.
Make your navigation intuitive
Ensure that users are able to make their way through the different pages and navigate from one dashboard to the other without any hassle. The best dashboards use familiar patterns of navigation that users have already used before and have clear tags so that they can intuitively know where to go. There are an endless number of options when it comes to dashboard hierarchy, so choose wisely.
Keep the dashboard UI clear and uncluttered
Remove any extra text, images or confusing graphics that may comprise the user experience. Best practices for dashboard design UX recommend keeping all related information in the same visual language, and keeping elements aligned to create a cohesive dashboard design. By following these principles you will be able to design an uncluttered dashboard that users like to work on.
Make sure the fonts on your dashboard are legible so that users can easily extract and process information without any problems. Use fonts that are easy to read, and also use colours that work best for the kind of information you are trying to present. Keep the scheme simple and consistent so that users trust the information you are presenting to them.
There is plenty of dashboard design inspiration available on the internet that can help you get started on your design journey. There are also plenty of templates available that provide everything you need to create great dashboard design UX.