Questions to Ask Before Creating a Dashboard

Dashboards are a valuable business tool that can provide insight and guidance. However, they can easily become weighed down by extra information, becoming useless. Next time you’re tasked with creating a dashboard, consider these questions so you can create an effective dashboard.

Who is the dashboard for?

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all dashboard. Instead of creating a single dashboard that applies to several different groups, focus on the people who will be using the dashboard. They will dictate the overall content and function.

It’s important to understand your audience’s goals, needs, technical skill level, and how much time they have to review your dashboard. If the user wants to be able to glance at it before a key meeting, you’ll want to create a dashboard that focuses on the big-picture idea, key metrics, and major trends instead of a highly-detailed report.

What is the dashboard’s purpose?

Just like your dashboard can’t be everything to everyone, it also can’t answer every question. What purpose or focus will your dashboard need to serve? Dashboards are helpful for more than just providing a performance overview. They can serve strategic, analytical, or operational purposes.  Here’s a quick overview of the main three types of dashboards:

Strategic: Strategic dashboards are used to monitor the strategic direction of a business or department. They allow executives to monitor the progress towards a pre-defined goal.

Analytical: Analytical dashboards use data collected over time to provide insights to users so they can understand what happened and what changes should be made.

Operational: Operational dashboards monitor day-to-day operations and performance. This allows managers to make sure things are working smoothly and catch issues as they arise.

What metrics are needed?

The questions that need to be answered will determine the types of metrics you’ll need. If the focus is for a specific task, like the results of a paid marketing campaign, spotlight the necessary KPIs and metrics like spend, clicks, and conversions along with a few select visualizations. If the focus is broad, like measuring overall performance, your dashboard will feature more data, filters, and visualizations.

What timeframe is needed?

How often will your users need to review the dashboard? For most organizations, monthly reports are enough. If you’re building a strategic dashboard in hopes of identifying trends, you’ll want a longer time frame.

How will the dashboard be accessed?

Consider how your dashboard will be accessed before creating. We’re no longer tied to your desktops so you should consider making your dashboard viewable on different size devices. If you create a dashboard with a lot of information, an executive won’t be very happy when attempting to look at it from their mobile phone.

What tools are available?

Thankfully you don’t need to invest in expensive software to create effective dashboards. Chances are you already have access to what you need! Most homebuilder marketers can use the features and tools available in Google Analytics and Google Data Studio to create impactful dashboards. If your dashboard is static, meaning it doesn’t need to have the most updated information, savvy marketers can use Excel to create dashboards as well.

We outline how Google Data Studio works in this blog post.

How do you want the data to be visualized?

The main benefit of dashboards is the ability to display information in a way that’s easy for viewers to understand. There are a lot of different types of charts and graphs so choose the one that fits your users’ needs the best.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common charts:

Bar graph: Bar graphs are the simplest and most straightforward way to compare categories. They’re ideal for showing changes over time and when you’re comparing more than three categories.

Line graph: Line graphs are great for showing changes in a single metric over time. They’re helpful for illustrating trends or making predictions.

Pie/donut chart: Pie or donut charts illustrate proportions. They’re ideal for comparing the parts of a whole.

Scorecard: Scorecards are used to highlight a key metric and may also include the change over a comparable date range.

You may also want to consider adding text to provide additional context to the charts, especially if you’re presenting to people who are not intimately involved with a project. Here’s a handy reference for choosing the best chart for your data.

Answering these questions will help you create a well-designed dashboard.

Do you need help with improving your digital marketing strategies? With over 25 years of experience working exclusively with home builders, we know what works. Give us a call and see what we can do for you.