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I see hundreds of posts and design shots of "dashboards" on things like Dribbble etc - but what lots of them neglect is that they're only ever representing one or two sets of data.

How do you present large data-sets efficiently? I recently ran into this issue when a donut chart would range from having just one data set, or 10 +

Obviously the issue arises here on how best to display the legends, without impacting design and the user experience

Would you group anything representing 20% or below for example as 'Other', what if the user needs to see everything?

I get pie charts/donut charts aren't always ideal for visualising data, but sometimes the client has the final say!

  • Don't forget that the dashboard should just present the most important information, and that you can always drill down further if required. When you put too much information on the dashboard, it just becomes a 'dumping ground' for information that isn't organized clearly or properly. But of course it is about getting the right balance and working with client requirements. – Michael Lai Mar 8 at 11:39
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A dashboard, as described by Stephen Few, is

[...] a visual display of the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives; consolidated and arranged on a single screen so the information can be monitored at a glance.

Based on the above quote, a dashboard should not be considered as a comprehensive tool for analysis or decision making. It should be used as a stepping stone where from there you can drill down to other sections in your product for further details and analysis.

A dashboard should be treated as a summary/overview of the most important information your users require to achieve their main goal - not just any other task. Hence you should consult with your users/customers of what's the most important information they are interested in. From there any further details they require to see they should be able to drill down through another section in your product rather than on the dashboard.

Talking with your users/customers will give you plentiful of insights and responses that you might not have thought of previously and help you form better insights as to what's most important to them in their current day to day job.

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