It's About Flow: Designing Dashboards that Actually Get Used

When it comes to spotting patterns and trends in the data around you, your eye is one of the best tools around. Visually, it’s easy to bounce from one point to another. And with your eyes, you can make intuitive connections before you even realize you’re thinking about them.

That’s what we call flow. We know—it’s an overused word. But what it’s really about is lack of clutter and distraction. It’s about the freedom to let your eyes and brain do what they already do so well together. And we think that’s pretty important. In a new whitepaper, Tableau’s User Experience Manager Jeff Pettiross explains why it’s also an essential part of your dashboard design.

Flowing water
Flow: It's important to water. And good books. But it's also essential to your dashboards—and we'll show you why.

Say you’ve analyzed a lot of data and come to a hard-won conclusion. You’ve spent hours placing all of your best visuals into a single dashboard. But how do you get people to actually use it?

You need to consider they'll experience that dashboard. Will their attention be clearly directed? Will they have to interrupt their thoughts at times to understand what they’re seeing? To answer these questions, you need to take a step back from your data and pretend you have no idea what it’s saying.

It’s actually not that different from writing a story. You know what’s going to happen, but you need to take your readers there from start to finish. And just like any good writer, you might get a bit of writer’s block in the beginning. Jeff shows you how to power through it.

In his whitepaper, you’ll learn how to:

  • Discover your audience’s precise needs so that you can tailor your dashboards to them.
  • Identify and remove everything that isn’t needed in your dashboard design.
  • Get feedback that’s actually useful to revise your work.

Flow can turn a paperback into a New York Times bestseller. But who knew dashboards could be page-turners too? With an eye for flow, you can design dashboards that your audience won’t want to put down.

Photo credit: “flow” by Mel Stoutsenberger, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

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