Finding Their Data Voice: Practices and Challenges of Dashboard Users
Dashboards are the ubiquitous means of data communication within organizations. Yet we have limited understanding of how they factor into data practices in the workplace, particularly for data workers who do not self-identify as professional analysts. We focus on data workers who use dashboards as a primary interface to data, reporting on an interview study that characterizes their data practices and the accompanying barriers to seamless data interaction. While dashboards are typically designed for data consumption, our findings show that dashboard users have far more diverse needs. To capture these activities, we frame data workers' practices as data conversations: conversations with data capture classic analysis (asking and answering data questions), while conversations through and around data involve constructing representations and narratives for sharing and communication. Dashboard users faced substantial barriers in their data conversations: their engagement with data was often intermittent, dependent on experts, and involved an awkward assembly of tools.
We challenge the visualization and analytics community to embrace dashboard users as a population and design tools that blend seamlessly into their work contexts.