How do you tell your developer to build a dashboard?
- Do you send powerpoint slides that you currently use as dashboards?
- Do you send a bunch of Excel files that contain data extracts in one sheet and charts that derive from the raw data?
- Do you sketch the charts on a paper or drawing board?
You are probably thinking what is wrong with any of the approaches above?
Your company just purchased the latest and greatest dashboard software and now has hired a consulting firm or trained internal IT resources to build the dashboards that pull data right from the ERP/CRM/MRP or custom datawarehouses.
Let us go through each of the approach above
1. Powerpoint slides
In many organizations, Powerpoint slides are “THE Dashboards“. A dedicated user crunches the numbers every month and keeps updating the powerpoint slides day in and day out. The slides then ship out to a mailing list containing the CEO, CFO, CIO, managers, and all the executives that are suppose to view them.
Now would you send the same slides to a developer or the consultant who is suppose to build Dashboards using the latest dashboard software?
If yes, then answer these questions
- Isn’t your data seen by someone who is probably not suppose to have access to?
- Your powerpoint slides will greatly influence the final dashboard that is delivered which is bad most of the time as all the design flaws get propogated in your latest and greatest dashboard software. So how will you prevent that?
2. Excel sheets
I have seen this so many times. Users have bunch of excel spreadsheets that reference multitudes of various other files that are sitting in some fileshare directory. The user shows the main number crunching sheet that they are proud of and demonstrates how these numbers are derived and then referenced in a third sheet that draws the dashboard. Amazing, isn’t it? The user has done the hard work no doubt about it but again the same questions arise with respect to data security and “design flaw propogation“.
3. Draw doodles of dashboard charts and the layout on a paper or drawing board
- How will you send it to other people for review and revisions?
- Where is the data on the charts that you just sketched?
You might argue back saying, why need data? The point here is not give real data in your Dashboard mockups but there is no rule against providing realistic and familiar data. If you present some wireframes or chart mockups that does not resemble your organization names on it, people names as example then users are going to simply balk. And throughout the entire review the only thing going in their mind is “This data does not look right, this data is not right…”.
So what are my options?
There are lot of wireframing tools in the market that allow you to prototype software but none provided me to mockup dashboards. So I spent 2 years developing this MockupTiger Wireframes and here is a brief introduction that provides exclusive Dashboard wireframing options.
For e.g To create a Bar chart, you simply drag the chart from the library
This is the true beauty of Dashboard wireframes. There are no colors. Your bar chart appears just like a skeleton which is perfect like a doodle on a paper except little clean and neat.
Double click the bar chart and now you edit the values that control the individual bars.
As you change the Rows, columns and the data against each label, you will notice the bars go up and down when you press OK.
The editor does not hide after clicking ok as it allows you to iterate and refine your mockup. You can click on the X on the top-right to close it.
There are lot of charts in the library to choose from and you can even add colors to your final mockups
The best part is the online version is absolutely free so you can register and start using in few seconds.
Go check out my Free Wireframe software (online)
So do you think this is a better approach for defining Business Intelligence requirements for Dashboards and Web applications?
Remember, a dashboard is also a web application so you will definitely need to include all the web design aesthetics and UI patterns when designing dashboards.
That is why MockupTiger allows you to build desktop, mobile, web and dashboard prototypes/wireframes/mockups.
You can also download and try it on your own PC.
Here is the Demo link