I have been wondering if the term 'dashboard' is responsible for some of the less user-friendly versions of business dashboards that are floating around.

As part of the strategy to get people thinking beyond existing designs (i.e. not just putting widgets that have interesting animations and bright colours), I am interested to find out if there are other terms used or suggested that is more relevant to the current/modern design patterns or applications?

  • 1
    Overview maybe?
    – Ryan Leach
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 5:14
  • Can you please explain that do you mean by "strategy to get people thinking beyond existing designs" and what is "the current/modern design patterns or applications"? Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 16:58
  • @JurijsKovzels the strategy is to get people away from thinking about colourful/fancy dials and gauges, and more about the story or relationship between sets of data that will help make decisions.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 0:01
  • 1
    I prefer to call good data visualization dashboards as Screens, Decision Screens, Project-Name Cockpit
    – Sumax
    Commented Oct 14, 2023 at 9:00

4 Answers 4


Google refer to them simply as 'Reports' in their data studio product. Microsoft refer to them as 'Dashboards' in their PowerBI product. Unfortunately I don't have any other reasearch or input to help you

  • 1
    The term report is still seen as something that is data-dense and static, rather than the perception of dashboards as being live/dynamic.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 5:35
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    @MichaelLai hence it is interesting that google have settled for simply 'Report' given that their offering supports being live and dynamic
    – Jake Harry
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 5:38
  • I would further expect to be able to download reports. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 2:24

A dashboard is a visual that should answer well defined business questions at a glance. If I look at a dashboard, I'll know within 10 seconds if we are on pace toward our targets. Dashboards are helpful for framing data to ensure numbers aren't taken out of context and that users of that dashboard remember to focus on the business question they seek to answer with the data to drive business value. Example: "Task completion rate for account registration" or "How well do we retain PPC visitors?"

A report is a bunch of numbers/metrics. This makes it very easy to take the data out of context and each user could draw their own conclusion.

Dashboard= one page visual, a few numbers, great design that clearly illustrates progress/trends/targets. Very high level of how you are performing against objectives.

Reporting= Numbers, metrics, blah.

Analysis= Someone looks at the dashboard, they have a business question on why conversion rate is low and how they might address that. You say, awesome! I'll put together a deck that answers that question with some data visualizations specific to what you aim to accomplish.


To be clear, there's nothing really wrong with a widget-driven approach if it meets the user needs. Abuse of a given pattern does not invalidate it.

That said, we use the terms "analytics platform" and "admin tools" to differentiate those dashboards focused on external (over internal) users or inputs (over outputs) respectively.


As much as I think labels are important, in this context, they will not make a difference; any of the following will do:

  • Dashboard;
  • Overview;
  • Home.

You can even omit any labels if the view is the top of the sitemap.

I do not think that you will change the mindset of users and avoid bad rep by relabeling the dashboard to anything else. If you label it 'control panel' and slap fancy dials and gauges into it users will eventually will understand that this is the same thing as dashboard. If you want to get rid of bad reputation add meaningful visualizations, timeserias, sparklines, make them drill-downable and explorable, so that users could understand the story, not just a snapshot of the current state.

If you label an image of the cat "cat", you will add redundancy, if you label it 'duck' - you will not fool anyone either.

  • Well, my aim is to get rid of fancy dials and gauges, but if I used the term that people normally associated with a collection of these widgets then that's what they will expect to see. So I want to call it something different and design it differently so the label matches with the designs.
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 23:00

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