The 3 Types of Data Analytics Dashboards: Which One Are You Designing?

The 3 Types of Data Analytics Dashboards: Which One Are You Designing?

A data dashboard is an analytics tool that helps capture, track and consume data to enhance your business. Your organization can use data insights to improve efficiency, anticipate customer buying trends and complete other vital tasks. Learn more about the three types of data dashboards and how to select the right one for your business needs.

Designing Your Dashboard for a Target

Advanced analytics tools like Power BI and Tableau make it easy to get started with dashboard templates. However, templates can restrict creativity and lack personalization. If you want your dashboard to enhance efficiency and provide at-a-glance insights, designing for a target is vital.

By focusing on a target audience or goal, you can apply the data to specific areas of need. Taking additional time to design lets you make the most use of your dashboard investment.

Tips for Selecting an Advanced Analytics Dashboard

Data dashboards are available in many types and configurations, which can make the initial design process seem overwhelming. Advanced preparation lets you make the most informed decisions for your new tool. Here are a few tips for choosing a data analysis dashboard:

Consider Your Audience

Starting with your audience in mind lets you meet their needs most closely. Consider these questions as you begin to design your dashboard:

  • Who will use the dashboard?
  • What problems or questions are they trying to solve?
  • What metrics are important to this audience?
  • What background or context data does the audience need?

By thinking about these factors, you can develop a dashboard that has the most relevance to the users.

Identify the Most Important Data Points

Your organization generates countless amounts of data each day. Analytics dashboards should be concise and accessible, providing an instant glimpse into data points and goals. You should identify specific data points instead of attempting to display everything at once.

One of the best ways to narrow down data is by considering business goals or risks. Think about what you want the analytics dashboard to achieve and model the displayed data off this goal. You might want insight into cybersecurity threats, so you can focus on security vulnerabilities or suspicious activities. 

Think About Desired Design

Most dashboards combine simplicity with functionality. They display data in a digestible manner and let users interact with the points if needed. Separating different data inputs improves clarity, while having too many pieces at once can complicate the display. From the font to the color scheme, every design aspect influences a user's experience. Keep your audience's preferences and needs in mind as you select the design.

The 3 Types of Dashboards

The three dashboard types can suit different business needs. Learning more about them can help you make the most informed decision for your business. These are the three major types of data analysis dashboards:

1. Strategic Dashboard

The strategic dashboard focuses on providing the key performance indicators (KPIs) in an easily consumable and quick-to-understand visual. These at-a-glance dashboards rely on consistency and clarity. The users look for immediate answers rather than digging deeper into the data. 

Here are some design best practices to keep in mind when building your strategic dashboard:

  • Displaying KPIs: Your strategic dashboard should help users understand KPI status. It could show current values and ideal targets by using colors to indicate good or bad performance.
  • Showing goal progression: The dashboard can use progress bars or gauges to show progress toward a goal and any obstacles.
  • Visualizing trends: The dashboard displays trends in a streamlined, easy-to-read way. Show basic trends with sparklines or line graphs without any labeling.
  • Omitting drill-downs: Most strategic dashboards do not include drill-downs, which provide a more detailed look at numbers and their meaning.

2. Operational Dashboard

The operational dashboard shows work progression for overseeing individuals. These dashboards are designed to show the current state of a branch, department or product line and identify problems. Operational dashboards typically do not provide deep data insights, with some necessary exceptions. 

Here are some design best practices for operational dashboards:

  • Inserting comparison visualizers: Operational dashboards use comparisons to sub-units to identify issues and compare progress.
  • Using line graphs: These dashboards use line graphs to show trend progress toward targets and visualize future results.
  • Applying occasional drill-downs: Depending on the scenario, an organization might add a drill-down to an operational dashboard.

3. Analytical Dashboard

The analytical dashboard lets the user explore the data in as many ways as possible. This dashboard type doesn't use specific data points or large summaries. Instead, this dynamic dashboard enables users to explore their data through filters and comparisons to uncover meaningful insights. 

Here are a few best development practices to consider for your analytical dashboard:

  • Focusing on grids: Grids are usually the major focal point of analytical dashboards. They provide more precise interpretations of data and trends.
  • Emphasizing flexibility: Analytical dashboards need to be as flexible as possible. They include many filters and alternate comparisons for users.
  • Adding forecasting tools: Analytical dashboards often involve features like predictive models and what-if parameters to anticipate future trends.
  • Implementing drill-downs: Analytical dashboards include drill-downs so users can interpret the data with the highest accuracy.

BDO Digital Can Help Design Your Ideal Dashboard

Your dashboard structure should depend on your business goals. By considering important data and business needs, you can design a dashboard that aligns with your goals.

BDO Digital can help you develop a data strategy that provides actionable insights. With our enhanced analytics strategies, you gain the tools to improve efficiency and service quality. We streamline reporting with our data visualizations and dashboards. Our wide range of data and analytics services can help your organization apply data from all fronts. We can help you develop a customized dashboard that meets your distinct needs.

To learn more, contact BDO Digital today.

Originally published May 06, 2019. Revised and updated November 21, 2023.