What Makes A Good Dashboard Design?

Here at Excel Me, I’ve built dashboards that come in all shapes and sizes in Excel and Notion. So, how do you design a good dashboard that is intuitive, aesthetically pleasing, and helpful?

At its core, a good dashboard should be easy to read and navigate, with an intuitive and consistent layout. No one likes a dashboard where they need to spend half their time actually looking for what they need!

Ultimately, a dashboard should provide users with the information they need to make informed decisions.

What Makes A Good Dashboard Design?

It doesn’t matter if you choose Excel or Notion – dashboard design principles will apply. 

A good dashboard design is one that presents relevant information in a clear, concise, and visually appealing manner. It should be easy to navigate and understand, with a logical layout and well-organized data.

A dashboard should also be customizable and allow the end user to interact with the data in a meaningful way. Depending on the software, it should also be accessible and responsive on multiple devices.

This point is a little more software dependent, but to the extent possible, a dashboard should be interactive. It should allow the user to drill down into the data for more detail and perform actions such as filtering and sorting.

Excel charts

10 Useful Starter Tips For Dashboard Designs

Before you even dive into designing your dashboard in Excel or Notion, I suggest designing your dashboard on paper first. Sketch, discuss, refine. It’ll save you a lot of heartache editing a dashboard feature that no one needs or wants!

Here are a few tips for designing an effective dashboard:

  1. Think about user’s needs – Design the dashboard keeping in mind the user’s needs and the specific goals they want to achieve by using it. A dashboard for a CEO will be very different from the dashboard for the head of marketing!
  2. Keep it simple – Avoid cluttering the dashboard with too much information. Only include the most important and relevant data.
  3. Use clear and consistent layout – Use a consistent layout and formatting throughout the dashboard to make it easy to navigate.
  4. Use clear and simple graphics – Use simple and easy-to-understand graphics, such as charts and graphs, to represent data. Avoid using overly complex or confusing graphics.
  5. Use colors effectively – Use colors to highlight important information. To keep items 2-5 aligned, check out Coolors, which can help you generate a coherent color palette.
  6. Make it interactive – Gives users the ability to interact with the dashboard. This includes filtering, sorting, and drill-down capabilities.
  7. Test it with the user – Get feedback from the users and make any necessary adjustments to the dashboard based on their feedback.
  8. Keep it up-to-date – Keep the dashboard up-to-date with the latest data and make sure that the data displayed is accurate and error-free.
  9. Think about automation – Automate the data refresh and update process so the dashboard is always up-to-date with the latest information.
  10. Consider mobile responsiveness – This is more for Notion and depends on needs, but consider making it mobile-responsive so that it can be accessed and used on different devices.

Here’s a walkthrough of the first dashboard I ever built in Notion. This simple dashboard covered everything I needed when I first started out, and it definitely grew as I learnt how to use Notion.

Follow The Design Principles CRAP

This acronym is one is a doozy! “CRAP” defines four design principles that you must follow when designing anything:

  • Contrast – Using contrasting colors, typography, and elements to make important information stand out and improve readability.
  • Repetition – Repeating design elements, such as colors, typography, and layouts, to create a consistent and cohesive look and feel.
  • Alignment – Using proper alignment to create a sense of balance and hierarchy, making the design more visually appealing and easier to understand.
  • Proximity – Grouping related elements together and using appropriate spacing to create a sense of organization and make the design easier to understand.

You can read more on the topic in this helpful design book The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

Project Management dashboard

Dashboard Maintenance And Updates

One last topic I’d like to touch on is regular updates and maintenance of a dashboard. 

A dashboard is only useful if the data it displays is accurate and up-to-date. This means that the dashboard should be regularly updated with new data. Any errors or inconsistencies in the data should be addressed promptly. 

Make sure the dashboard and data interact with each other in a seamless way. Don’t make it a huge exercise every refresh!

That is all for now. Happy Dashboarding. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this helpful!

Here are some Excel and Notion dashboards to get your creative juices going:

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