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I have to create a new dashboard for a client. It needs to include a table, two pie charts, and combo column chart. There is A LOT of data that needs to be displayed, causing the page to be very tall from the table and the combo column chart unreadable. I'm looking for recommendations on the best way to present the data on the UI so it's easy to read and digest. The new dashboard is supposed to be a high level summary. Here's the details. Thank you in advance for your help!

Table Details:

  • Total production for each product per location for selected timeframe (for simplicity, assume monthly intervals, ex. Feb)
  • Between 30-100+ locations based on filter selections
  • Previous column shows total production for production period (ex. Jan)
  • Variance column shows difference between two months

Combo Column Chart:

  • Total Production by location for selected timeframe (ex. Feb)
  • Same data from table, so between 30-100+ locations based on filter selections
  • 3 Data elements: Actual Production, Previous Period, Projected Production
  • Right now using grouped column for total production and previous period, and line chart for projected

Example data shown in attached screenshotenter image description here

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What is purpose of the dashboard?

Because you are a UX Newbie, I definitely recommend reading Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few (Second Edition). This is will show you what makes a good dashboard (and what makes a poor dashboard). Sadly there too many poor dashboards out there caused by lack of knowledge.

For example, Pie charts are rarely useful because they are notoriously difficult to compare things, especially if the sectors in the pie are similar sizes. However bar graphs are excellent for comparing things. Every time I see a pie chart, I immediately replace it with a Bar graph, which instantly makes it better to compare things.

So firstly, you need to understand the intended purpose of the dashboard.

  • Is it to compare similar things?
  • Is it to show progress against a target?
  • Is it to identify when things are going well?
  • Is it to alert you when things are not going well (so that you can now do something about it)?

Once you know the purpose and goals, then you need to look at what data is available. You might need to make additional data, which means you might need to count things or combining multiple pieces of data, or even collating historical data. Getting the data you need can often be challenging.

Once you know the purpose and goals and you have the data you need, only then do you start thinking about the data visualisations that best support what the user needs.

Stephen Few has a website , where you can see his analysis (and his solutions) to common dashboards problems: http://www.perceptualedge.com/examples.php

  • Thanks Steve. We definitely do not take the time to outline the purpose and goals of our pages. Everything is very reactive and immediate. It's something I've been trying to introduce into our culture but management doesn't seem to understand/see the importance. I purchased Stephen Few's book though. Thanks for the recommendation – Kelley Feb 1 '17 at 16:32
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If there is no need to compare the charts to each other, then there is no need to show them all at once.

I would suggest to show one at the time and use tabs to quickly change between views while still keeping you selected timeframe, that way the user kan focus on a single chart

If you need to show them all on one page you can for example enlarge or shrink one on click and use a animation here so it does still feel natural.

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You might want to consider using a table plugin such as datatables and paginate the table. Agree a default sort to bring the most important data onto the first page. That is if you HAVE to put a table on a dashboard.

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