6 min read

UI Tips & Tricks to Improve any Dashboard

Since their inception, dashboards have become one of the simplest ways in which to view and interpret data. Their visual nature, versatility, and comprehensiveness have truly revolutionized the ways in which users experience, and interface with data. However, the success or failure of them hinges on the same, the experience and interface. We’ve covered dashboard UX in a previous article, and here, we’re highlighting what makes dashboard UI designs click. 

Right off the bat, not all dashboards are created equal, and a poorly designed dashboard sticks out like a sore thumb, by virtue of making information or more difficult to understand, defeating the entire purpose of using it in the first place. Good dashboard UI design can not only make a poor dashboard usable, but a good dashboard a great one as well. Below, we’ve covered 5 top tips from our designers, which ensure your dashboard UI design will be on point, for a polished, easy-to-use end product.

3 Pointers to Improve Dashboard UI Design

Before delving into dashboard UI design, it goes without saying that the foundational rules of UI design apply to every project, and dashboards are by no means an exception. With that being said, the following are 3 of Onething’s tried-and-tested UI-centered tips to improve your dashboard holistically. 

Leverage Colour Psychology to Convey Information

When creating the UI for a dashboard, the idea is to present information in as clear a fashion as possible, and what better way to do this than to utilize established conventions which exist within users just through daily life. This phenomenon, particularly with colours make a great pairing with dashboard UI, particularly when it comes to the speed at which information is interpreted. To give an example, most everyone would associate ‘green’ with being good, and ‘red’ as being bad, just by virtue of daily interaction such as traffic lights, or battery indicators on smartphones. Thus, using these to represent ‘good’ or ‘bad’ metrics on a dashboard allows users to instantaneously recognize what the state of something is, instead of having to dig through the numbers to find out. This tactic works great in dashboards where speed is essential for operators.

An example of when Onething used colour psychology in a dashboard was on our ‘Netradyne’ project. This was a fleet-management dashboard, with a UI designed to help operators keep an eye on drivers, for management or logistical purposes. The smart use of colour is a motif throughout the project, as can be seen in the case-study, but I’d like to highlight the ‘risk’ identification aspect in particular. On the map screen, ‘yellow’ icons represented low risk, ‘orange’ represented moderate risk, and ‘red’ represented high risk. These colours are easily identifiable, and any operator, even those unfamiliar with the platform would be able to quickly and easily tell which drivers are at a higher risk solely based on the colour choice.

Facilitate User Customization

In what is generally considered to be a best practice for UI design, putting the users in complete control of the interface is almost always advisable. This rings doubly true for UI in dashboards, since there will be no ‘one size fits all’ design, and different users and operators will have their own nuanced manners in which they wish to view the data. The route some designers pick up is creating numerous pre-set views and displays through which users can access the data, while this is a simple fix, it hardly addresses the problem with a satisfactory level of flexibility.

What do we at Onething do? Simple, give the reigns of customization totally over to the user, and allow them to create the dashboard which is best suited to their needs. Not should you allow users to customize their view once, but constantly provide the option to make the switch as and when needed, this will put the user in control of the dashboard, making it feel more responsive and functional, while the change was a fairly cosmetic one from the dashboard UI designers standpoint. Most recently this can be seen on our Airtel project, wherein we were tasked with creating a communications solution which tracked user interactions through both phone calls, and SMS’. The ‘numbers’ dashboard for example has the ever-present ‘edit view’ option on the side, letting operators customize the dashboard to their specific needs, or make quick changes in case of any unforeseen requirement.

Invoke Familiarity With Iconography

One of the foundational concepts of UI/UX design is the ‘mere exposure effect’, which suggests that people are more likely to prefer something which they’ve seen before. The information age has made it such that we spend a significant amount of daily life glued to smartphones. In fact, studies suggest that millennials spend over 3 hours a day on a mobile device on average. This undoubtedly creates a certain amount of familiarity with certain icons, actions, and menus. As a dashboard UI designer, leveraging this past knowledge is one of the most effective ways to convey information, that is to say, not having to convey it at all.

All this parlays quite nicely into dashboard UI design, since delivering information to the user with as much efficiency as possible should be the end goal of the UI designers. Thus, using iconography which the user is familiar with can greatly save the amount of time spent onboarding and tutorializing the user. This could include data-driven elements, such as red up, and green down ticker-arrows to signify instantaneous changes in values, or functional elements, such as hamburger and kebab menu icons. You can see this everywhere on our work with UnitXPro, such as a wallet icon for the finance tab, or a clipboard for tasks, while easy to recognize without the assistance of text, the icons are still unique, brought together by the geometric layouts, and straight lines of material design. 

Conclusion

It’s clear that the make or break point of any dashboard comes in the form of it’s UX, and dashboard UI design. When executed properly, an informative, customizable, and easy-to-use dashboard can be made available for users, who feel it’s familiarity despite having never used it before. The best kind of UI’s in dashboard design are those which don’t get in the way of a users ability to view data, and instead compliment this whenever possible. These UI tips, alongside the UX ones mentioned in a previous blog will ensure a successful, easy, and fun-to-use dashboard every time.


FAQs

What is a Dashboard in UI?

A dashboard is a type of interface which allows users or operators to quickly and easily view, and interpret data. An example of a dashboard is google analytics, which allows advertisers to view in-depth data regarding their ads. A dashboard UI is how the users interact with the dashboard, including all on-screen visual elements.

What should be shown on a dashboard?

At Onething, we firmly believe in the customizability of dashboards. Allowing users and operators to change and customize exactly what they see on a dashboard is a great solution, allowing for major flexibility and mobility for users. Otherwise, relevant information should be easy-to-find, and divided equally across various screens and tabs.

How do you design a dashboard?

Dashboard design requires in-depth UX and UI design for a satisfactory end product. UX design would go from research, to persona-creation, wireframing, and finally, prototyping. Then UI designers would take over, and create the interface, and visual design. These would both be brought together by a developer before a finished product is released to the masses.

What are the benefits of a dashboard?

Dashboards allow users to quickly and simply view large volumes of data or information, allowing them to extrapolate, make inferences, or even take action on events. They are organized in a manner such that users can get all required data in numerical, or graphical form, allowing for easy understanding.

What is the difference between dashboard and report?

A report is normally an after-the-fact collection of data, which represents in detail what happened at a certain point in time. Conversely, dashboard normally concern the here and now, showing real time information and changes over time. While one encapsulates a moment in time, the other is an ongoing tool.

How can I make my dashboard more attractive?

A UI designer would be the best solution to give an existing dashboard a facelift. Utilizing colour theory, as mentioned in the blog above, is a great way to spice up a dashboard. Furthermore, try implementing some UI trends for a more contemporary look, consider flat UI, since it gels well with dashboard UIs.

What is the best dashboard?

The best dashboards are those designed with immaculate UI and UX principles in mind. With good foundational UX, and an attractive, yet functional UI, any dashboard could be a fantastic one, which users enjoy interacting with.

How do you explain a dashboard?

Dashboards are tools that display large amounts of information and data in a simple, streamlined manner. This is so that users can pick them up, and utilize them, and use them to solve problems, extrapolate information, or make inferences.

How do I make a dashboard from scratch?

This would require a knowledge of both UI and UX design. First, the UX design would have to happen, with research, competitive analysis, and other tools being used. Then this would move to the creation of wireframes, and prototypes. UI designers would then come in to create visual elements, with developers finally putting everything together to make a finished product.

Published by Isra Sawafi

Sr. UX Designer

Isra Sawafi Sr. UX Designer