With clear objectives, some knowledge in graphic design, User Interface and data visualization, you have all the cards in hand to make your data take shape. This article has put together a list of 10 most important graphic design techniques that can bring visual impact to your analytics dashboards.
1. Draft visual elements of your dashboard
Before you start, put your ideas flat – goals, KPI, metrics, visuals, etc. As a graphic artist, lay the foundations of your dashboard on a white sheet.
- Think about the structure, the major parts, the visual representations and especially the people of your company who will consult the dashboard.
2. Keep it simple
Simplicity = Readability. Any visual element or effect that does not make sense will blur the communication. Do not forget that your dashboards are meant to be shared, so make it simple to be clear.
- Do not overload your screens with too many graphics, too close to each other.
- Avoid contours on the areas that frame your graphic representations.
3. Adjust the colours in context
If you share your dashboards, the colours used must have a meaning understood by all. For the symbols, the most common example is the changes in values (decrease and increase in traffic, for example).
- Some colours go badly in some countries. Remember if you need to share your data internationally.
4. Avoid the cacophony
Intelligently combine colours. Choose complementary shades. They are diametrically opposed on the chromatic circle. They reinforce contrasts, and thus facilitate reading. The pallets offered as standard in your tool must comply with these rules.
- Do not choose the same colour families in the same dashboard screen. For example, only cold colours (blue, green, purple, gray …).
- On the bottom of your screen, use a “clean” colour (i.e., that is not mixed with other colours). White, for example, is good!
5. Do not overdo the nuances
Use a maximum of six variations of the same colour in a chart, otherwise you may not be able to distinguish them.
- On a geographical representation, too many nuances will prevent you from clearly comparing your countries, especially in tight spaces.
6. Force contrasts
Use proper contrasts and avoid making the colour contrast too low. The visuals in contrasting colours can bring out the elements in relation to each other.
- Do not write your texts in black on dark backgrounds, and vice versa.
7. Balance between title and value
Find a balance between titles and visuals. Make sure your writings are large enough to be readable but do not encroach on the main information – the data.
- Make your data larger than your texts.
8. Harmonize your pictograms
Use the same pictograms everywhere. Keep the same style on all tabs in your dashboard analytics (e.g. Tablet, smartphone, or desktop).
9. Limited fonts
No more than three different font families in one dashboard. As for the colours, here is the question of the general harmony of your dashboard. If possible, respect the official fonts of your company’s graphic charter.
- Systematically repeat the same font, even with the same colour and size per title level. Adjust the size of this font to the size of the title.
- No fonts with Serif (or impasto) if the size of your text is small.
- Avoid shadows that increase your texts.
10. Work with your text content
Document your graphics when needed with short, clear titles that are easy to read. The objective is to situate the context and to know where we are quickly.
- Prefer the scattered texts distributed around each visual, rather than long paragraphs.
- If you name an item in a certain way at a location, do the same everywhere. For example, if you’re talking about “conversion rates” on a tab, do not talk about “conversion rates” on the next tab.