In this blog post, we’ll give you practical tips to help you create or revise your dashboard. Using a dashboard from Prym as an example, we’ll show you how easy it is to revamp and improve a dashboard, both technically and visually. The original dashboard was in use for 4 years in the small quantity picking department at Prym. When two more warehouse areas were to be added, it was a good time to take another look at the dashboard in detail. In this blog post, you’ll learn what we noticed and how we optimized the dashboard.
The family-owned company Prym was founded in 1530, making it the oldest industrial company in Germany. Prym is the world market leader for accessories for the clothing industry. The portfolio includes sewing items, needlework items and button closure systems, among others. If you want to know more about Prym, you will find everything you need at www.prym.de. Now let’s get started with the redesign of the dashboard. You can see the side-by-side before and after comparison here:
summary of visual revisions:
A few little things caught our eye right away during the visual makeover of the dashboard, and we are summarizing them here as practical tips for your next dashboard project:
1. The colors red and green.
With the old dashboard, the colors chosen for the bars showing the progress of each storage area were red and green. This is problematic because people who have a red-green deficiency cannot see the different coloring this way.
Moreover, according to Western color associations, red indicates that there is something wrong. Since the bars are still completely red at the beginning of the shift, it gives the impression that there is a problem. Red should only be used when it implies a warning.
2. Hierarchy of the dashboard elements.
Not all key figures and information on your dashboard are equally relevant to the viewer, so they should be marked in importance by different font sizes or coloration.
In Prym’s example, all information was initially displayed in the same weighting, even though, for example, the heading or the item “Total open ta-pos” offers little added value for the target group.
3. Arrangement of the bars of the target/actual comparison.
To be able to see the difference in the progress of the individual warehouse areas immediately, it makes sense to arrange the bars parallel one above the other. In a horizontal arrangement, the differences in the actual states would have to be quite significant to be recognized by the eye.
4. The use of abbreviations.
In the case of the Prym dashboard, the abbreviations used were known within the company, but it can make sense to write out the terms or replace them with icons, because this way new employees will immediately understand the information on the dashboard.
5. The lack of order.
To visually create a bit more order on the dashboard, it helps to align the individual elements on a grid. For example, in the Prym dashboard, the “Open TA-POs” were a bit too far to the left and the spacing between items was also inconsistent.
how to improve any dashboard in just 5 steps:
Before you start revising your existing dashboard or designing a new one, you should first clarify a few basic questions. The answers to these will help you create a coherent and goal-directed dashboard in the end.
- Who is the dashboard for? Who is the target audience?
The Prym Group dashboard, for example, targets about 40 employees in logistics who move back and forth between the different warehouse areas and look at the dashboard several times a day.
Since the environment, namely the small parts warehouse in picking, is rather hectic and the warehouse staff has little time to deal with details, unnecessary elements should be avoided.
In order to enable short response times, it is also important to keep the dashboard well-organized and to avoid non-essential information.
- What is the goal of the dashboard?
In this case, the dashboard should enable a targeted and rapid distribution of personnel. With the help of the dashboard, it should be quickly recognizable where the different warehouse areas stand in relation to the daily target, so that the teams can distribute autonomously depending on the workload and so that all areas fulfill their target in time.
- What are the most valuable metrics? Which info is actually important?
For Prym, it was important that anyone looking at the dashboard could quickly see how many storage units (LEH) have already been processed and how many still need to be processed. Especially in direct comparison, the different progress of the storage areas should be quickly apparent and was therefore displayed as a percentage.
- At what distance and under what lighting conditions will your dashboard hang?
In this case, it should be taken into account that viewers of the dashboard need to be able to see the content from up to 10 meters away and up to 2 meters high.
Before you start implementing your dashboard ideas, you should first write down the key metrics and information you want the finished dashboard to contain. Then sketch on a piece of paper exactly where you want to place which element. Use this sketch to gather feedback from the dashboard’s target audience. You’ll quickly see if the layout makes sense for your purposes. You can also find out if all the necessary metrics have been included or if maybe even something can be shortened.
In this step, also think about how you will access the data you need for your project. How are your key figures composed? In which upstream systems is the information stored? Do you have the necessary authorizations to access it?
Involve the colleagues involved in the project as early as possible in the process. These are usually the IT department and the administrators. Together with all parties involved, solutions to any problems that may arise can be found early on.
To ensure that the dashboard is as efficient as possible and to avoid unnecessary server load, only the data that is really needed should be queried. In our example, this means that only those columns should be queried that contain information relevant to the dashboard.
In addition, we recommend that all technical terms for functions, variables, data sources or data flows be created in English, as this has become established in the IT world. After all, sooner or later someone might come into contact with dashboard editing who has problems with alternative terms, e.g. in German language.
Of course, the appearance of the finished dashboard is also important. Only with a reasonable design will the necessary information be presented clearly and concisely. So pay attention to where diagrams could be useful, which elements should be displayed in which size, or which information can be omitted for the sake of clarity. We’ve summarized everything you need to know about dashboard design in our blog post Dashboard Design Basics.
Don’t immediately put a check mark behind it once the dashboard has arrived at its destination. After all, now is the time to put the dashboard through its paces. So ask for feedback to confirm that the dashboard is doing its job effectively and is well received by employees. Talk to them, ask questions, and be open to suggestions for improvement, and your dashboard is sure to be a success!
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With these tricks and tips you can present your key figures in the right light!