What is a dashboard?
Dashboards display metrics which are very important in helping us understand particular areas of interest. A good dashboard has the ability to give you an understanding of events at a glance. A dashboard is characterized as a time saver based on the fact that it displays vital information efficiently.
Dashboards should not be mistaken for reports
Most people mistake dashboards for reports, and this is a very big misconception. They see a dashboard as a report because it is displaying the info being reported on. A report is a one-time thing, can be long, and can require a lot of time to put together.
Dashboards, however, are tools for connecting to info. Unlike reports, dashboards change as the information changes in real-time. Dashboards can be used to dive into reports and extract vital information in detail.
Dashboards are created for the representation of data as well as causal relationships which are already known in order to enhance monitoring seamlessly with little or no effort. A dashboard is usually displayed on a purpose-built screen and basically contains just essential data which is needed for the achievement of organizational goals as well as providing solutions to problems faced by the intended user. Dashboards are built to give you the ability to quickly monitor critical information in just a single glance. It offers sufficient contextual and analytical detail and gives you a quick way of extracting the relevant details.
Dashboard visuals by chart types
Different kinds of visuals can be used on dashboards. The truth is that your dashboard can contain anything you want it to. The dashboard might even come with a video. Check out these two usual suspects that may be seen on typical dashboards:
Gauges are one of the visuals used when it comes to data visualization and dashboards. When you think of a dashboard, this is one of the first visuals that come into your mind. Gauges are basically utilized to display actual vs. performance targets.
In contrast with gauges, sparklines happen to be mostly preferred by data scientists. Sparklines are basically small line charts and are used in displaying trends over time. Sparklines have certain features which make them highly desired by the experts. One of the reasons is that they are very good at saving space. Another reason is that they can be used to tell a story which gives the viewer a context that is very useful. They are data-intense, small sized graphics that come in a simple design. If you are looking to show data over a period of time, a sparkline can be a perfect visual. You might wonder why sparklines come in handy for designing dashboards.
The reason is that this visualization element has the ability to save both space and time. A lot of data can be packed into such a small space with the addition of vital contextual info. They, therefore, provide a quick understanding of events at just a simple glance. This makes it easier to identify issues to be addressed as well as actions to be implemented.
Dashboard technical implementation (looking under the covers)