Make Your Data Insights Actionable With Visualised Dashboards
If you’re working with digital marketing, chances are you have a vast amount of business essential information available at your fingertips. However, if you’re similar to the majority of marketers, you feel overwhelmed by the amount of data, which means you’re missing out on insights that might be crucial to achieve your business goals.
A powerful way of getting to understand your data better is to be able to see it visually. Visualising your data in a dashboard allows you to monitor and explore your data which then allows you to react instantly on business essential deviations and explore the causes in a timely manner. If you have a dashboard which is designed to let you quickly do a health check of your business, you can react much faster, which is crucial in the fast pace of a modern business.
There are some great tools to get you started with using dashboards such as Tableau, QlikView and (of course) the service we’ve chosen as our partner; Klipfolio. Common for these services is that they allow you to quickly set up default dashboards based on the data sources supported by their services. This creates a low barrier of entrance, which is attractive at first sight but often results in dashboards which is driven by available data rather essential data.
Many companies make the mistake of being too data-centric too early when designing dashboards. Before even looking at what data is available, you should understand what data is essential to your business. These 6 steps will help you get better dashboards in the future.
1. Define KPI’s
The first step when designing a great dashboard is to define the most essential KPI to your business. By deciding on a single KPI that is most important, you force yourself to design a dashboard which focus attention on the business essentials and thereby stays relevant to your business.
For e-commerce businesses it will usually be the revenue that determines your overall success. B2B-businesses might have a more diverse range of measures for success. In both cases (and all others) you need to focus your attention on a single KPI to ensure that your dashboard stays relevant to you and your organisation.
Next, you will need to ask yourself; Which KPI’s support the main KPI? If you notice a fluctuation in your main KPI, you need quick access to data which could cause the changes. This could be conversion rate or number of visitors dropping. Keep in mind that while your dashboard is a tool for analysis, it is not a business intelligence-tool. Restrict yourself to only include data with direct impact on your main KPI.
2. Define Relevant Data Sources
Now’s the time to think about what data is available to support your KPI’s. Can you monitor your KPI’s with the data already available to you or will you need additional data? The data sources needed will be based on your insights from your defined KPI but might include (without being limited to) a mix of the following:
- Web Analytics (Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics, etc.)
- CRM (Salesforce, SAP or Oracle, etc.)
- Marketing Automation (Marketo, MailChimp, etc.)
- Usability (Hotjar, Optimizely, Crazy Egg, etc.)
3. Connect to Your Data Sources
Extracting data from data sources should execute automatically on a regular basis. This requires some programming initially but is preferable to manually updating data (in Excel, Google Drive or similar) since it:
- Is cost effective – little or no resources needed once the data sources are set up
- Always provides up-to-date data
- Reduces human errors when updating data (… this should not be underestimated)
Most modern tools offer web services that allow you to set up automatic import of the data to the dashboard. If you don’t have the skills inhouse you should consider teaming up with someone with expertise in this area – like us at Atcore.
4. Visualise data
The successful dashboard depend on the visual representation of the data. A common misstep when creating dashboards is underestimating the value of good dashboard-design to communicate the data clearly and concise.
Say you need to monitor, how many times the number ‘6’ occurs in a given period of time. By merely visualising all data available to you, your visualisation could end up looking like this. Can you count the number of 6’s?
Dashboard design 1:
It is possible to decipher the amount of 6’s, but the visualisation offers no visual cues to guide your understanding. By simply changing the colouring of our KPI (‘6’ in this case) the reading of the data becomes much more intuitive.
Dashboard design 2:
To illustrate the importance of the visual design of your dashboard, take a look at this other example of two different designs of the same data:
When you need to explore fluctuations in your KPI’s the most interesting aspect of the data is often a comparison between two periods. The two designs both offer the same information, however in Design B the use of colour and different font sizes is used to prioritise the data visually.
First, you focus your attention on the change (indicating growth or decrease) which is highlighted with a colour, then the bold lettering (the primary period) and lastly the data from the period we are comparing the value to.
This enables you to swiftly monitor your KPI’s and identify points of interest.
5. Evaluate the User Experience
An essential, but often overlooked part of designing a dashboard, is to understand that the perfect dashboard design will always be dependant on the people using it. Evaluating how users are interacting with and using the dashboard is crucial if you really want to become data-driven.
Designing the perfect dashboard for your organisation is thus not a one-off execution but should be thought of as a continuous process. Even if you carefully plan each of the steps described here, you will likely see yourself question some of the decisions once you start using your dashboard on a daily basis.
6. Choose an Expert to Develop Custom Dashboards
The complexity of designing your dashboard will obviously differ from organisation to organisation. However, if you lack skills in one of the following disciplines, you should consider consulting an expert in the field:
- Digital Strategy: Do you (and your organisation) have a clear digital strategy? A clear digital strategy with actionable KPI’s is essential to the dashboard.
- Programming Skills: Do you know how to access data via SQL, API’s, etc.?
- Design Skills: Do you know how design principles such as proximity, contrast and connection affect the perception of the data?
At Atcore we assist you in your journey towards digital excellence. As should be clear by now, your dashboard should not be a standalone product, but an integrated part of your strategy and day-to-day decision making. We are experts in working with digital strategy and are executing strategic dashboards that support the data-driven decision-making in global and local organisations within a wide range of areas including healthcare, retail, public administrations and energy.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +45 6060 4444 to hear about your options.