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A-Z Guide to an Ideal Dashboard Design

In the modern tech-savvy age, it’s hard to imagine a person who doesn’t use a dozen apps every day. Thousands of apps enter the market every day in hopes of winning a fair share of the booming mobile technology market. Still, only a few of them succeed. The reason for this is the growing sophistication of users picking only intuitive, helpful, and visually appealing software.

So, how can you maximize the chances of your app’s success on the market? One of the key considerations at the design stage is the app’s dashboard. It is often the primary criterion of the user’s app choice. In a nutshell, a dashboard is the app’s activity display showcasing the KPIs and activities you can measure with its help.

Thus, a well-designed dashboard gives a user a glance at what the app can do for them. The dashboard’s looks help the user decide whether they need this software or not, affecting their download or purchase decision. And the good news is that we can help you design an impeccable dashboard that will leave no user indifferent. Read on to find the top tips and hacks to improve the appearance and functionality of your dashboard, thus increasing your app’s outreach and profitability.

Dashboard Design Steps

Effective dashboard design requires thorough planning, as you need to ensure that your web developers capture your idea well. Here are some pre-development issues to determine and negotiate with designers before starting the actual design phase.

1. User Needs

Regardless of what you like and what visual examples inspire you the most, it would be best if you put your users’ needs first. Any dashboard design revolves around what end users expect from your app. Thus, you need to single out the key metrics and data that users want to analyze, placing them all on the dashboard for immediate access.

2. Dashboard Type

First, let’s clarify what dashboard you need to design. There are three types of dashboards in web app design, and each of them comes with specific peculiarities.

  • Operational Dashboards are widespread in commercial software for individual end-users. They show real-time changes of key metrics and track user operations and performance in the app.
  • Analytical Dashboards are more on the technical side, using historical data to visualize its analysis and inform further decisions. Such dashboards are specific in application and may seem too challenging for a layperson’s comprehension.
  • Strategic Dashboards focus on the company’s performance tracking and visualize performance milestones and goals. Managers and top executives typically use them to identify the current business progress and weak links in business operations.

3. Visualization Type

When it comes to infographics, moderation is key. There is no need to include all kinds of pie charts, graphs, and histograms to impress your users. Instead, you need to strive for usability and clarity attainable with a minimal, consistent selection of visual tools. For instance, tables are a handy tool for presenting large data chunks; line charts also improve comprehension. But keep away from pie charts as laypersons often find it hard to decipher the stats.

How to Design Your Ideal Dashboard? Top 4 Rules

A picture of laptop with some dashboard opened

Regardless of the dashboard type you need, following the principles of proper design and the visual appeal is mandatory to make your app usable. First, you need to determine the dashboard elements that include:

1. Simple Layout

Most dashboard designers stick to a “five seconds” rule. It means that the user should grasp the dashboard’s components in no more than 5 seconds. Thus, it’s better to opt for a large font size to emphasize the most important metrics. Also, choose clear fonts (e.g., Sans Serif) in the dashboard as it’s much clearer for the eye than fancy fonts are. Experts also recommend using fewer widgets not to disperse the user’s attention. The more widgets you have, the higher the chances of ending up with a cluttered, confusing dashboard.

2. Informativity

Though we recommend using a few widgets, there is still a mandatory minimum to include. The rule of thumb is to include several widget types so that the user doesn’t find the layout too dull. You can also enhance the intuitiveness of your dashboard by grouping related metrics by widget type.

KPI presentation can also make the dashboard more informative if you experiment with different visuals within the same metric. For instance, you can use a speedometer to visualize revenue growth and couple it with a histogram detailing each employee’s contribution to that goal.

3. Visual Appeal

The role of color choice can hardly be overestimated when it comes to dashboard design. Professionals tend to minimize the number of colors in the dashboard’s palette as the color code of your app may appear confusing and inconsistent. The best way to go is to keep the palette coherent with your brand colors. You’ll never go wrong by using conditional colors – e.g., assigning green to positive KPIs and yellow, orange, and red to various alarming deviations from the set goals.

Another trick to enhance user engagement and motivation is gamification. Examples include a leaderboard, notifications and badge awards for reaching a goal, etc. Some innovative apps even give tokens to users who reach and exceed KPIs to stimulate their commitment. The tokens may either possess a monetary value or give access to premium in-app features.

4. Layout Principles

The final point to consider is an intuitive, efficient layout of the dashboard’s primary elements. According to the visual heatmap, the most important things should be placed in the top left corner. Less essential elements should go to the center of the screen. Besides, it always helps to place related widgets close to each other, thus simplifying the process of data search and analysis.


With these tips and tricks in mind, you’re better positioned to design an ideal dashboard that your app’s users will love. Make sure to align all design elements with your app’s purpose, choose a consistent color palette for it, and focus on usability first. Your clients will appreciate the effort as they always choose simple and effective software serving their needs without fail.

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