Charts – The Fundamental Elements Of Your Dashboard

Categories: Excel Charts, How-To

All dashboards depend heavily on charts. Therefore when you are creating a dashboard, it is advisable to spend some time preparing beforehand. Examine your data and make sure you are certain exactly what sort of information you want to gain by using a dashboard. It is only when you have done this that you will be able to choose appropriate and relevant charts.

There are of course some important points to remember when creating a chart. You will need it to be concise, clear and relevant. It is very easy to create a simple chart, but it can be more tricky to choose a chart layout that best suits your needs. For example, it is important that you do not plot all of your data. If you are laying out a business dashboard, KPIs will most likely be foremost in your mind. All charts should focus on providing a clear and relevant overview on performance. This will therefore mean that much of the data generated by your daily business can be safely ignored.

Conversely it may be the case that you have insufficient data to generate a particular chart. You will want your chart to be meaningful, not just in itself but also in the greater context of the dashboard. If you do not have enough data to indicate any form of trend or pattern for a certain chart, you may want to consider omitting that chart as it cannot be contributing to any form or overview. However it is also very important that you do not clutter your charts either, by including too much data. Some data clusters can be represented by a single data point, if you wish to create a general chart depicting an overall trend. Remember clarity is one of the most important aspects, and cluttered overloaded charts are anything but clear. Selecting exactly which data to chart and how to chart it is a skill in itself, which can be developed with practice. If you feel that certain data absolutely cannot be omitted, the drill down feature can be used to include this data on another layer.

A final important aspect to remember is that your dashboard is designed to be viewed as a whole. You should therefore try and keep charts that are related to each other together, so that they can be viewed in direct comparison. This helps with analysis and decision making, as a selection of different factors and effects can be seen at the same time. It is also possible to see how these factors relate to each other and contribute to performance.


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