Gathering and Understanding Dashboard Requirements: What to Do Before Building a Dashboard

Data science has become the backbone of many operations across industries, from helping comparison companies find the best homeowners insurance to assisting factories in improving productivity, dashboards cover a considerable part of data science and all the related activities

According to a research report, 70% of B2B sales professionals prefer receiving daily reports in the form of dashboards. Dashboards convey essential data reports from different sources depending on your preferred needs. 

Even though dashboards cover an integral part of message delivery, there are various aspects that you need to consider. Do you know how to build a dashboard? This is an essential question that many people ask themselves, although there is much behind closed doors. Before designing a dashboard and bringing it to the limelight, you must learn various things. 

The exciting part is that you may find multiple guides that elaborate further on different dashboard designs and layouts. However, finding aspects that need consideration is where most people experience difficulties. But, this is the guide that you have been looking for! 

Before you start building a dashboard, you need to clearly understand the necessary aspects to consider before hitting the ground running. Remember that designing a dashboard is not all about outlining figures carelessly in a poorly structured layout. You need to have a clear grasp of what you are doing to develop a compelling data output. 

Do you want to learn what it takes before designing a dashboard? Continue reading this article as we dive into more details! 

Assess and Define the Need for a Dashboard

Understanding the ultimate goal of the dashboard is an important aspect. On most occasions, the efforts are channeled to the general appearance of the dashboard, forgetting about its importance. Besides, most people prefer website designs similar to those they have seen or are familiar with. As a result, such people end up having dashboards that cannot solve the problem. 

The important part is to focus on the problem you want the dashboard to solve before choosing the most suitable design. Also, ensure that the dashboard can uniformly operate based on the capabilities of its users. However, this is only possible if you can understand all the metal models of the user and use the information to determine the way forward.

To be in a better position, you need to outline the key questions the dashboard will answer and the actions that can be taken in response to the issues. Evaluate the kind of information displayed on the dashboard and why the information is essential. Identify the best comparison format that you can use to depict the difference between the information at hand. 

Consider creating a good schedule on how the dashboard will be updated and the changes you are likely to make. 

Create a Prototype

After gathering clear information about the dashboard, you need to generate a prototype of the dashboard. This step is mainly meant to help you understand all the components you have at your disposal and any other element you may be missing. Note that this is applied when creating automated dashboards since they operate similarly. 

A prototype is popularly known as a sketch that can be drawn by hand. You don’t need to waste your time drawing a prototype. Since you won’t need it after this stage, the sketch will only help you to define various elements within the dashboard before you get back to the drawing board and start designing. 

It will help you analyze every aspect’s importance and how to present them on the real dashboard. The prototype helps you to create a reliable arrangement of all the tools and features necessary for the dashboard. Remember that you may not find a good design for the first time, although the prototype will help you make changes until you come up with the right thing. 

You can also introduce new design elements in the prototype to get a picture of the real design. This is a better way to create a quality dashboard that outlines all your essential data. 

Choose the Charts to Use 

Using pictures is a better way to communicate loads of information in a simple way. Researchers say that a single picture is worth a thousand words. Before you design a dashboard, you need to choose the most appropriate charts to incorporate into the dashboard. 

Charts cover an important part of data visualization. When you want to depict patterns and trends in your data, you need to have the right charts to serve the right purpose. Note that you cannot discover patterns in your data just by the data with bare hands. You need to capitalize on data visualization to help you clearly understand whatever is happening. 

If you want your dashboard to display ranking and comparison, you need to have a bar chart. When you aim to identify trends over a given time frame, use a line chart or an area chart to display the insights. Sankey charts are the most preferred options when you want to show a part of a whole. 

When you aim to display geographical data, always opt for maps that are paired with charts. Ensure that every chart type is aligned with its duties within the dashboard. 

Ensure that the Charts You Choose Are Effective

Apart from choosing the right chart type, you must ensure that the chosen charts are effective. You don’t need to use charts to enhance the beauty of the dashboard. Every aspect outlined on the dashboard should carry meaning and contribute to message delivery. Remember that every chart has its unique role that makes the dashboard deliver perfectly on its respective roles. 

In addition, the charts should be applied using the right orientation. You may have a chart that displays the right message but outlines it poorly. This is likely to affect message delivery and the effectiveness of the dashboard. Ensure that the charts are aligned depending on the data they contain and the message you intend to deliver. 

Also, avoid using many colors on the chart since they will affect the message you intend to communicate. Choose a uniform color to use in the charts and apply it accordingly. The charts should be organized in a way that makes them communicate a particular message. The order you use to outline the charts is crucial since it contributes to information delivery. 

Collect Feedback and Make Proper Changes

After you have chosen the charts to use, you need to collect feedback from your respective users. This stage will help you collect detailed insights from the data and help you understand the changes that you can make in the charts to address the right thing. The dashboard should help you answer a specific question simply. 

The chart types you use should be easily read and convey the right information. Evaluate your data and identify if there is any need to filter through and drill down information down the chart. You should incorporate all the feedback you get from your audience into your work. This includes making changes to the prototype to attain your respective goals. 


Designing a dashboard is not as simple as it sounds. There is a lot of information you need to dig into and use appropriately before you come up with the final design. In addition, you need to be mindful of the steps it takes before you begin designing a dashboard that answers all your questions. 

Creating a quality dashboard needs you to be keen on details and have basic information about what you are doing. The exciting news is that the entire process can be completed by watching with data visualization. Visuals make the entire process easy to understand and offer guidance on every step you make. 


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