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Dashboard Design from a User Experience Perspective

No matter how many dashboard projects you’ve been involved with, I think you’ll agree that the article below is a GREAT refresher in the fine art of dashboard design. It looks at the approach you should take to ensure that your dashboard designs are user centric and user experience focused. The article is destined to be a classic. Written by Mike Hughes, the post is titled Dashboard Design 101.

Here’s how it starts off:

Unfortunately, dashboard design often follows the following progression:

A product manager recognizes the need for a dashboard or hears people talking about dashboards at a happy-hour networking event and adds this requirement: “Product shall include a graphical dashboard on the home page.”

Engineering scours the database schemata to see what data the system collects and displays it in bar charts and pie charts on a dashboard.
Someone decides the dashboard needs to be more graphically appealing, so Engineering renders all of the charts in 3D and adds more colors.

If the team includes a graphic artist, perhaps that person designs widgets that emulate the kinds of dials one might find on an actual car dashboard, then says, “Get it? It’s a dashboard!” at the stakeholder walkthrough.

We can do so much better than this. The purpose of this column is to investigate how UX professionals can improve on the all-too-typical process I’ve described and drive product teams toward meaningful dashboard design.

Read the rest at http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/11/dashboard-design-101.php

Dashboard Grid Design

Dashboards work best when they are laid out on a design grid that makes sense from both an aesthetic and functional point of view. With the popularity of out-of-the-box business intelligence dashboard applications, the dashboard designer often enjoys the luxury of not having to worry about grid alignment or underlying grid design.

However, for those dashboard designers and business intelligence application designers who must deal themselves with dashboard grid layouts, here are some resources:

This Dashboard Layout System tutorial illustrates step by step how to convert a design grid into html layout. Here’s an example from it:

Dashboard grid design

And for you that need the basics of grid layout design, please study the “Rule of Thirds” or the “Golden Mean”:

Golden Mean design rule