5 Tips to Optimize Dashboard Visualizations


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While deciding what you would like to report on and how, consider a few tips we’ve found essential to optimize dashboard visualizations in order to allow users to draw the most valuable insights.

“An effective dashboard is the product not of cute gauges, meters, and traffic lights, but rather of informed design: more science than art, more simplicity than dazzle. It is, above all else, about communication.”

Stephen Few
Information Dashboard Design

choose the right mediumChoose the right medium:

This should be an elementary concept, but to be able to choose the most appropriate means of displaying information, one must first understand the type of data they would like to visualize. They need to distinguish between quantitative and qualitative data, and must also know what they would like to show, eg.: geographic location, side-by-side comparisons, parts of a whole, trend, etc. Without recognizing the purpose of the various visualizations available it is difficult to choose the proper medium to convey the information necessary to obtain useful insights, and spark valuable communication.


When it comes to data visualization effectiveness, simplicity is gold. It is more impactful to present a clear, easy to read graph to stakeholders, than an exaggerated, dramatic visualization. In fact, readers may, and should, become skeptical of over complicated charts. It may appear as if the designer is trying to hide or distract the reader from less favorable information.

crowded line graph

Avoid 3D:

There are many software programs available that make it tempting to convert a two-dimensional graph to three, but we cannot stress enough why this is far from optimal. The addition of depth only provides meaningless visual content that your reader must take in, but does not contribute valuable information.

Take, for example, a bar graph: as we see below: the addition of 3D visuals just makes the graph as a whole more confounding, which in turn makes it harder to interpret the values along the scale line. A 3D line graph may have the same adverse effect of making it unnecessarily difficult to decipher values.

3D Bar Chart                3D Line Chart

Predictive Capabilities:

Dashboards allow us to visualize historical data, but one key feature of modern dashboard visualizations is the ability to show predictive values. You may not be able to see the future, but predictive capabilities grant dashboard readers a competitive edge. Through the visualization of future trends, organizations may make better data-informed decisions by analyzing possible scenarios, and react accordingly to optimize their marketing actions for the best results possible.

Predictive Capabilities

Interactive features:

An additional bonus of dashboards is the ability to manipulate visualizations in order to allow viewers to take away more from them. By adding interactive features, users are able to select which variables they would like to see, the value of each visual, and possibly even predictions as previously stated, to name a few functions. It may seem insignificant, but by adding interactive features, readers are provided with convenient tools to identify specific information quickly and easily.

The key objective of dashboards is to deliver most valuable information to each individual within a company, so that they are able to find powerful insights and take action according to those.  In order to allow your organization to get the most out of your dashboards, be mindful of the visualizations you use to represent your metrics.

interactive chartinteractive view

For more tips on how to optimize dashboard visualizations, as well as to discover the secrets of dashboard design, download your free copy of The Red Book of Dashboard Design.

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Holly McKendry

Sweetspot Marketing Director. Wakeboarder & travel enthusiast. Communication Studies graduate of Texas State University, San Marcos.

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