Designing Data Dashboards
“Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand.” — Ben Schneiderman
We have ever increasing data available about the state of the business these day; data which is historical, current, real-time and even predictive in nature. Our ability to review, monitor and take decisions based on this data requires us to effectively communicate this to the user. Dashboards have traditionally been used as a way for doing so. However, designing effective dashboards is hard. Achieving the eloquent simplicity in communicating multiple indicators within the bounds of the small screen estate is not easy. It requires learning and practicing the craft of dashboard design.
Dashboards are a visual display of important information needed to achieve key objectives for the business for easy understanding and monitoring by the user. To achieve this requires starting with understanding the purpose and needs of the user and deciding the key metrics required by them in the dashboard. It needs to be then translated in to high-density visual representations e.g. basic charts, bullet charts, spark lines, tree maps etc. to communicate them. Then dashboard needs to be structured and layered in a way to effectively use the limited screen estate. And finally, we need to add the interactivity to allow user to engage and explore the dashboard.
The aim of the workshop is to provide an introduction to designing data dashboards. The focus will be to lay a strong foundation on the building blocks needed for the same. It will make you think and reflect by challenging some of your existing design approaches and perceptions about data visualization, dashboard design and storytelling. There are three key objectives:
- To gain an deeper understanding of designing data dashboards through exemplars, and understand what works and how it works.
- To provide the knowledge of the basic building blocks needed for creating an effective data dashboard as well as a flexible design framework to help guide your journey in creating them.
- To start learning the craft of creating effective data dashboards through practice, presentation and feedback in an interactive workshop environment.
The workshop would be scheduled over one day and would be delivered with a mix of teaching, discussions and reflections, as well as individual and group exercises. It would aim to cover the following topics.
- Introduction and Fundamentals
- Understand the purpose and types of dashboards
- Review typical challenges in designing data dashboards
- Exercise - Conduct instinctive dashboard critique + Review
- Approach and design framework for creating data dashboards
- Mapping the audience, purpose and metrics for a dashboard
- Choose Charts for Dashboard
- Select appropriate type of charts for dashboards
- Principles of graphical perception and integrity
- Understand data-ink and chart-junk
- Exercise - Making data charts for dashboard + Review
- Using high-density representations: sparklines, bullet graphs, treemaps, geo-spatial maps etc.
- Effective use of color to display data
- Exercise - Create a high density representation + Review
- Design the Dashboard
- Understand point of view: explanatory vs. exploratory
- Choose a structure: flow, relationships, grouping or narrative
- Map the layout: grids, white space and screen space
- Understand guiding design principles: compactness, modularity, reveal, focus & guide attention, customization, context aware, lead to action
- Make effective use of color, typography and annotation
- Exercise - Build an effective dashboard + Review
- Add Interactivity to the Dashboard
- Engagement in context - personal, presentation & participation
- Build common interaction patterns: select, explore, reconfigure, encode, filter, drill-down, connect
- Exercise - Adding interaction to the dashboard + Review
- Takeaway principles of effective data dashboards
- Wrap up and feedback
Participant Profile — The workshop is ideal for anyone who is involved in developing and designing dashboards for different audiences. Some familiarity with creating and using data visualization tools would be preferable.
Tools Used — The workshop principles are tool-agnostic and can be applied using any visual analytics platform or graphical programming tool. However, for the ease of doing the exercises, we would be using Tableau Public during the workshop. Please download, install and build basic familiarity with the tool prior to the session.
Number of Participants — The maximum number of participants for the workshop would be capped at 30. The small class size would enable a more participative environment with group interaction and presentations possible as well as opportunities to have one-to-one learning interactions.
Duration — The workshop would be conducted over a day from 0900 to 1700. There will be short breaks during the morning and afternoon session and a longer lunch break of around 45 minutes in the middle.
Venue Logistics — A training venue for the workshop, with availability of a projector, sound system and whiteboard would be needed for conducting the session.
The workshop would be charged at Rs. 150,000 per day (for Indian locations) or USD 5,000 per day (for International locations). Service tax and other government charges as applicable will be additional. Also, for sessions conducted outside of Bangalore, the facilitator’s travel and accommodation cost would be charged on actuals.
Amit Kapoor is interested in learning and teaching the craft of telling visual stories with data. He is the founder partner at narrativeVIZ Consulting, where he teaches data-science, data-visualisation and data-stories as tools for improving communication, persuasion, and leadership and conducts workshops on these topics for businesses, nonprofits, and academic institutes. He also teaches visualisation as a guest faculty in design context at NID, Bangalore and in management context at IIM Bangalore & IIM Ahmedabad
His background is in strategy consulting in using data-driven stories to drive change across organizations and businesses. He has more than 15 years of management consulting experience, first with AT Kearney in India, then with Booz & Company in Europe and more recently for startups in Bangalore. He did his B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from IIT, Delhi and PGDM (MBA) from IIM, Ahmedabad. You can find more about him at amitkaps.com and tweet him at @amitkaps.