The real reasons so many dashboards disappoint users – Nick Desbarats, Practical Reporting

Despite the fact that books and courses on information dashboard design have been available for years, many dashboards still end up disappointing users and organizations. Users have trouble finding answers to basic data-related questions and fail to notice urgent problems because they’re hidden behind clicks, hard to notice, or possibly not even displayed on dashboards. Because of these and other problems, many dashboards continue to be under-used or even abandoned. In this talk, Beyond Dashboards author Nick Desbarats uncovers the real reasons why so many dashboards fail to satisfy users and organizations; reasons that go far deeper than the visual design on which most dashboard books and courses focus.

Key Takeaways

  • Organizations often assume that, if users don’t like a dashboard, it’s due to poor visual design (layout, chart types, colors, etc.). This is almost never the main cause of user dissatisfaction, however, and improving the visual design rarely improves usage and acceptance.
  • Many enterprise dashboards are “Swiss army knife” tools that attempt to serve a wide variety of data-related needs, but that fail to meet any of those needs effectively.
  • A set of targeted, purpose-specific displays does a far better job of enabling users to get accurate answers to their data-related questions quickly and easily, including basic questions such as, “Is everything OK right now?”
  • The key types of purpose-specific displays are problem-scanning displays, diagnostic displays, performance monitoring displays, slice-and-dice displays, and self-serve analysis displays.

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