5 Design Concepts Necessary to Create Meaningful Dashboard UI

We are living in a highly dynamic world, mesmerized with smart technologies and flooded with various forms of structured and unstructured data that are the key drivers of every form of business.

Real-time data analytics and data visualization are not just a must-have for contemporary enterprises, rather a paucity of these can be catastrophic for your business altogether. This is where the importance of dashboards with great UI designs comes into place.

Keeping in mind the rapid advancements in the fields like big data, artificial intelligence, etc., that underline the massive use of complex algorithms, it is bliss if every piece of data can be analyzed and visualized on a dashboard.

Referring to the definition by Wikipedia, “ A dashboard is a type of graphical user interface which often provides at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to a particular objective or business process.”

Let’s look deeper.

The Key Elements of Real-Time Dashboards

Designing interactive real-time dashboards is not a fluke. An in-depth analysis of the business functions along with the key dashboard UI elements as listed below should be used to make a perfect one:

  • A simple design that is devoid of overcrowded information
  • A dashboard UI design which enables human-friendly communications
  • Fewer distractions that enable better overall interaction
  • Ability to represent significant and useful information on the go
  • Easy accessibility which makes for a wonderful dashboard UI

While designing an interactive dashboard, blending the above-mentioned features with the following effective dashboard UI design tips, is one of the best strategies.

The Indispensable Tips for a Quality Dashboard UI

1. Maintaining Consistency is the Key Rule

One thing for sure, lack of consistency is likely to lead to a lack of interest! Enterprises that wish to keep up with the consistency standards, it becomes even more, take this design principle seriously.

Basically, maintaining consistency is equivalent to drafting an intuitive design. It is a designing tip that maintains a natural flow of information and actions without making the users head south.

Precisely, you need to specially take care of the visual consistency of the design. Be it the fonts, interoperability, compatibility, theme, placement of elements, or navigation; everything together makes for a consistent design.

The following illustration demonstrates the difference between good and bad consistency in the dashboard UI.

difference between good and bad consistency in the dashboard UI

Add-on tips to work on the visual aspect of a dashboard UI UX:

  • Maintain a consistent color palette all across the dashboard
  • The style of charts should be consistently followed throughout
  • Consistent labeling should not be given a miss
  • Similarly categorized data should maintain a consistent pattern

2. Emphasize on the Comparative Analysis

Differentiating one piece of data from another should be a natural process altogether. Thus, it comes as an added responsibility to represent information in a way that the user finds it as easy as ABC to derive insights from visually flowing data.

Emphasize on the Comparative Analysis while building a dashboard

Here’s the thumb rule: Do not adjust a plethora of tabs or long scrolls in an attempt to fragment the information. Even if you wish to go ahead with scrolls and tabs, it needs to be done cautiously while maintaining the cleanliness of the design.

It might seem challenging to implement a compact design that accommodates all that a user seeks, but it is your only chance. Either the users will be pulled towards the design, or they will ignore it altogether.

Here is the simplified 4-rule method to nail the comparative analysis parameter that contributes towards creating the best dashboard UI.

  • Suddenness: The factor associates itself with adding surprising elements to the design to ensure that your design does something out-of-the-box.
  • Ease: It should be a breeze to locate and understand information without any hurdles or feeling lost on the way.
  • Positive Effect: The overall design should reflect positive vibes so that the users feel welcomed and appreciated.
  • Instinct: The natural flow of interface should be such that the intuition of the user regarding what comes next proves to be right.

3. Decorating the Content Across the UI

A neat and clean design that is rich in information is ever-welcome! That means you need to maintain a beautiful user interface without compromising on any intrinsic data/information.

Generally, there are three aspects to achieve perfection with content, i.e., relevancy, clean designing, and iconography.

Here we’ll talk about each of these elements separately for a clearer perspective.

  • Relevancy: This revolves around adding precision and meaning to data by making visualizing and analyzing an easy task. Going off the track is not an option here as users are likely to lose interest. So, make sure you focus on simplifying content and narrow down visual representation to the most critical information.
  • Say No to Over-designing: Over the clustering of data and information is just going to worsen things. The idea is to neither confuse the users nor to distract them from their motives. Try and ignore additional visual decorating elements such as shadows, 3D effects, and background elements. While on the other hand, maintain a fine balance of shapes and colors.
  • Using Iconography: Usually, people have a mindset that dashboards are about text and charts. However, there’s a third facet to dashboard designs, i.e., “icons.” Placing familiar and commonly-accessible icons such as “Save,” “Delete,” “Open,” or “Hide,” will make your dashboard design stand out. The users will know where to click to undertake any particular action, thus, making for great User Experience.
  • Icon Colors: The icons on the dashboard design should be a colorful saga that ends up enticing users with its charm. But, there is a catch here! You need to pick color combinations with the utmost attention to details. For a fact, the right colors work in harmony to speed up the visual search. According to a study, blending in the combination of “red,” “blue,” and “green,” happens to be the most preferred of all.

Icon colours play a vital role in designing dashboard UI

4. Go for Nice & Simple Charts

A noteworthy dashboard UI ought to be a hub of charts that act as primary data visualization trends. If you are choosing complicated charts that are tricky to decipher, you are certainly going the wrong way.

It is very important to choose a relevant style of charts that are commonly used and accepted among your users. You definitely need to control your urge to try new ideas for representing information as in this case, the simpler the better.

The following table gives an insight into the different types of charts available along with highlighting the instances where they can be used.

different types of charts available for designing dashboard

Additionally, the following, tips can do wonders when working on charts for user dashboard design:

  • It is always recommended to choose either bar charts, pie charts, or even line charts as they are long-lasting options and are easy to understand as well.
  • No matter how strongly you feel about it, do not invest in 3D charts or to be more precise, “skeuomorphic design.” It would be a good choice altogether if you choose a flatter design instead.
  • Always choose a type of chart that suits the data you wish to represent and also make sure that it gracefully accommodates the variables you are showcasing.

5. Take Care of the Fonts

Though it is a personal choice when it comes to choosing the fonts and its corresponding sizing, there are certain parameters to look after when building a usable dashboard UI design.

It is common for designers to include different fonts for different categories of data, but it is not a good design practice. For any cleaner design, it is strictly recommended to stick to one font, which, in turn, does not exceed three chosen sizes.

Take Care of the Fonts while designing a dashboard

However, you can always add the “Bold” effect to your text along with modifying its color to showcase its significance.

As for some add-on tips, you could also refer to the following:

  • Serif Font could be a decent choice for the “Body” text. Also, these fonts are used in a lot of books, thus making it look a bit familiar.
  • An alternative font style, “Sans-Serif” makes for a great choice when it comes to highlighting the main heading and the sub-heads.
  • Always choose text color and background color that not only complement each other but also looks soothing to the eye. Remember, dark and dark do gel up well, and vice versa.


This is it! If you are on to designing or redesigning your dashboard UI, the above-mentioned tips prove to be the best practices available to date. However, never imbibe these tips without understanding your end-user preferences and expectations well. Blending the dashboard UI design tips with a clear understanding of what the user expects, certainly add the cherry on the cake.

So, never ignore the power of good dashboard designs, as a feeble dashboard UI design can cost you loads. In case you are still figuring out how to make the big move, professional help in the form of expert dashboard UI designers is always a step away.

In the end, it is all about making the users understand the key pieces of data and empowering them with great data-insights.

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Design a dashboard UI that stands out throughout

Adam Milne

About the Author

Forte:Managing and Leading projects with multi-cultural teams in competitive environments
Likes: Biking around NYC and enjoys Pineapple on Pizza
Dislikes: Micromanaging
Claim to Fame: As Creed in ‘The Office’ says, I was born in the US of A.
Biggest Tech blunder committed: Early in my career, thinking UX and UI are the same things. *Facepalm*
Wannabe: A professional Basketball Player

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