The Definitive Guide to Dashboard Design

Why should you read the Definitive Guide to Dashboard Design? It’s simple: dashboard design matters.

Introduction: Why Dashboard Design Matters

According to a study by Microsoft, human beings have an attention span of just eight seconds. That means you have about seven seconds to get your point across.

Consider this: You could use those seven seconds on text alone – which gives your user time to read about 13 words. Or, you could use a visual to communicate an entire insight in just a tenth of a second. This is where dashboards really prove their value.

Dashboards are single screens that give users a clear view of the information that matters most. They empower us to meaningfully group visuals and tell a richer story. They transform raw data into critical information that jumps out to your users, who can comprehend and act on it in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take them.

Dashboard design can mean the difference between users excitedly embracing your product or ignoring it altogether. Great dashboards lead to richer user experiences and significant return on investment (ROI), while poorly designed dashboards distract users, suppress adoption, and can even tarnish your project or brand.

Unsettlingly, you can even overdesign a dashboard. That’s one of the many reasons we wrote The Definitive Guide to Dashboard Design—to help you avoid common pitfalls, including…

  • Cramming too much onto one screen and expecting the user to figure out what’s interesting and relevant on their own
  • Getting carried away with fonts and colors so the user is distracted by formatting instead of focusing on the content
  • Using visualizations that might look fancy, but really aren’t appropriate for conveying the data at hand

In this guide, we’ll look at examples of these and many more dashboard mistakes in action—as well as examples of great dashboards that embody the fundamentals of design.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Simplify content to reduce visual elements to only the most critical
  • Use size to organize the layout of your data and create a visual hierarchy
  • Choose a meaningful color palette that complements your data
  • Emphasize important points using font types, color, and weight
  • And much more!

Ready to design your dashboard? Let’s get started!