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I'm developing a dashboard for a client, and we have some users who fit into multiple roles within the company, ie. a Project Manager and a Department Manager. In this case they function as two separate roles in the company.

Screen real estate is at a premium, so it is getting VERY difficult to squeeze the dashboard sections from both roles into one dashboard for these mutiple-role users.

What is the best way to deal with this type of situation? Should we give them a toggle to view their dashboard as either a PM or a DM? To me that sort of defeats the purpose of a dashboard, an at-a-glance lazy view of all your pertinent information.

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When you say Screen real estate is at a premium...do you mean both horz and vert? If so what are the specifics that you are designing too? –  bgadoci Feb 8 '11 at 4:31
    
Well, yes, they are both at a premium. But I guess the answer I am looking for is more of a guidance on the type of situation I am in, not just an answer for my particular case. When designing a dashboard, what kind of ideas or guidance would you offer when you have users that fit more than 1 role? –  Richard DesLonde Feb 8 '11 at 7:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The point of a dashboard is to give the user pertinent information at a glance. The user's role is a good starting point however there is much more information you could collect to determine what dashboard elements are important to the user.

For example your users may have two roles however seeing both dashboards may not be appropriate for them. They may be a Project Manager 90% of the time and a Department Manager 10%. So to show dashboard elements for both roles with the same importance on screen would not be ideal.

It would be better to give the user the choice of what dashboard elements they wanted to see. For example you could allow them to select a profile from a predefined list or/and they could cherry pick elements form a central store. This approach allows the user to choose what elements are important to them.

Another approach would be for the application to learn about the users habits and build the dashboard elements based on that information. For example the user goes to the Project Manager pages all the time but has never gone to the Department Manager screens. Therefore the application could tailor the dashboard more to a Project Manager with maybe a 'see more' link off to the other dashboard elements.

A combination of all these would also work, allowing the user to pick and choose as they please but also the application suggesting dashboard elements based on their habits. For example if the user is always visiting the Project Manager pages as above but they have not chosen a Project Manager dashboard element the system could suggest that they add one.

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I like your first suggestion better than your second. Coding an interface which adapts automagically could confuse users once they get used to a particular layout. It is much easier to build out an iGoogle-like screen which starts out with everything, then the user can move around elements, remove or re-add them as their needs change (long-term, not day-to-day). If you take a widget-like approach, this could be very easy to use and implement. –  Rob Allen Feb 9 '11 at 14:26
    
Good idea, but hard to make as well. It is (a lot of) technical work for something that might also be solved by some good upfront research and design. –  Lode Mar 14 '11 at 6:31

If it is possible in this case I would try to use tab navigation with which these users can change the view between PM or DM view.

So they only have 1 user, with acces to more dashboard styles.

I wouldn't really try to mix them. If there are only two available

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I think there is more then just two screens. This way you force the user to choose one of these two roles. Maybe they execute them together? Maybe they like a total overview of what's new in the morning? –  Lode Mar 14 '11 at 6:29

Figure out what the most important information is for somebody with these two roles and create a dashboard with just that information. On that dashboard, provide links to the dashboard for each specific role. To them these links would function as a drill-down to more detailed information.

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I think this is the right way to go, do some research and find out what they use mostly, what they want to see in the morning, after lunch, before going home, etc. Maybe the links to the two separate dashboards are not needed anymore as the users can go to actual/action/end-result screens directly. –  Lode Mar 14 '11 at 6:33

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