Dashboard Design

What is a dashboard? If a BI tool comes to mind, think again.

The Art of BI Dashboard Design

Today, many people equate a dashboard with their favorite Business Intelligence tool. But the traditional answer to this simple question has nothing to do with BI. In a classic automobile dashboard, only the necessary information for the driver is displayed.

If something goes wrong, the warning light comes on. It’s simple and to the point. That’s how the best dashboards are designed. At Infozone, we adopt the same method in our BI Dashboard Design.


The Dashboard Five Second Rule™ couldn’t be simpler.

Glance at your BI dashboard for 5 seconds, then look away. If you remember the specifics of what was important, you’re good. If not, then time to rethink your dashboard.

If you can quickly determine that “margin is doing better than last year” or “we are short of our quota,” then great – at a basic level, your dashboard’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are performing their roles. But, if you actually have to take time to think about and analyze the data, the dashboard is not properly serving its purpose. In other words, you’re wasting precious time.


That’s where our UI/UX process begins: with the very clear objective of making sure your dashboard serves you by showing the KPIs simply and effectively. The dashboard is the first page, or the landing page, and tells you what is good or bad. The rest of the application allows you to drill down deeper into the why.

The three keys to good dashboard design are: Comparability, Common Sense, and Simplicity.

These are the three basic concepts you must include in your Dashboard. Comparability gives you the performance indicators. Adding Common Sense colors and symbols provides the ability to readily observe what is good or bad in a matter of seconds. But if you have a very complex dashboard with an overwhelming display of information, you can easily become distracted. Simplicity is crucial to quickly identify the performance of a key indicator. Remember to go back to the basics and ask yourself, what would an automobile dashboard show?


Once you have the basic key items for your dashboard, what else is needed to serve users better? A typical BI application contains multiple views. Infozone designers organize them using the DAR concept: Dashboard-Analysis-Report.

D – Dashboard tells you what is good or bad
A – Analysis tells you how or why
R – Report tells you the actionable items

The DAR concept provides information flow in your BI application. It connects the pieces of information together, so stories can be developed and understood. It allows users to interact with the data in order for it to become actionable. DAR enables us to create a BI design solution, not just a standard graphic design.

The difference between what is beautiful when standing still (a web page or piece of print collateral) and what is beautiful in motion (an interactive business intelligence experience) is profound. At Infozone, we design for better BI.

“The Infozone User Experience team re-designed the FCR dashboard so our people could quickly make sense of key metrics at first glance. The thought process Shima and her team bring to the User Experience and User Interface is highly specialized and unique. Our VP of Sales loves the report. It provides three levels of leadership and a quick snapshot of how the organization is performing.” – Mark Fleming, Senior Director of Field Force Automation at Sanofi.

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