The Essential Guide to Designing a Polished Dashboard
Creating a dashboard that looks polished can seem tricky, especially if you do not have any previous experience with design. Our Graphic Design Extraordinaire, Michelle Chung, has gathered simple tips you can use to transform your dashboard to make it look sleek and beautiful.
Have a look at our essential dashboard design guide for tips on how to:
- 1. Create Your Layout
To start, plan out your layout, as it is the foundation of good design. Make sure the layout accommodates the amount of data properly. Each chart should have enough space. Do not try to fit too many elements onto one slide, as that results in a cluttered and overwhelming-looking dashboard. Instead, make use of margins and white space to give a lighter feel that is easier to navigate.
- 2. Define Your Colors
Using a color scheme can instantly elevate your design as it makes your dashboard more cohesive and attractive. Keep it simple and stick to two to four colors, excluding neutral colors (such as white, grey, or black), since multiple neutrals can be added without disturbing the design. Really try to limit your palette since too many contrasting colors can create confusion and an overall cluttered look.
Image 2: Examples of color palettes.
With that being said, there are exceptions. You can use more colors if you are using different shades of the same colors.
Image 3: Example of how a dashboard with a larger color palette can look harmonious by using different shades of the same colors.
Lastly, make sure that the colors you are using complement each other. For a cohesive color palette, do not mix muted colors with vibrant colors. If you need help choosing the right colors there are great online color palette generators online, one of them is Coolors.
Image 4: Muted vs. Saturated color palette.
- 3. Simplify Your Charts
The look of charts can also have a great impact on the overall design. If you find your dashboard too cluttered and heavy-looking, try to simplify gridlines and use a lighter shade.
Image 5: Example of dark gridlines for every cell compared to light gridlines only on rows.
Charts should look as simple as possible in order to enhance comprehension. Remove redundant information such as double labels, or unnecessary elements like shadows and (sometimes) gridlines.
- 4. Communicate with Icons
Icons are great not only for visual appeal but also for efficient communication. An easy way to incorporate them is to have one representing each KPI. You can also use dynamic icons to visualize the data. However, make sure not to go overboard, having icons everywhere can make the dashboard look overwhelming.
- 5. Add Photos and Illustrations
Design elements such as photos and illustrations can draw interest to your dashboard. They can be used for decorative purposes – making your dashboard more visual and attractive. You could also use these elements to illustrate what the data is referring to, thereby complementing and supporting the data.
Image 8: Example of decorative illustration used to achieve visual appeal.
Image 9: Example of images used to support the data.
Get in touch
This blog post was prepared as a part of the Data Visualization in Action series by the Dapresy Services team. If you need advice from our data visualization experts, want to chat about your data, or be inspired – get in touch with us at email@example.com. We are here to support you to tell your story in an interesting, inspiring, and results-oriented way.