Many of us working with online platforms or tools on a daily basis rely on dashboards of one kind or another. A dashboard is an interface where you can get all (or most) of your necessary information all at once. But digital dashboards are often overwhelming, with a range of unwanted widgets, buttons, graphs, tables, drop-down menus, feeds, and more creating a cluttered workspace. A bad dashboard can exacerbate one of the core problems of the digital age: an overabundance of disorganized information. However, an organized and tidy dashboard can change your workflow and life for the better.
If you are lucky, the digital dashboards you rely on are like the dashboards provided by Open Social, allowing you to fully customize and optimize them. However, to make sure you configure your dashboard in a way that makes life easier, you have to keep a few key questions in mind.
What kind of dashboard do I need?
There are different types of dashboards, and not all serve the same purpose:
- Operational Dashboards: This is the most common dashboard type. It usually gives you real-time data streams related to daily operations. The purpose of this dashboard is to give a snapshot overview of everything that is going on at the moment.
- Analytical Dashboards: The analytic dashboard is often very complex and filled with tables, graphs, and data visualizations. This dashboard gives you all the metrics and measurements of your platform or community’s performance and is commonly used for reporting and data-driven decision-making.
- Strategic Dashboards: This dashboard borrows elements from the analytical dashboard, but is much more goal-oriented. The strategic dashboard is meant to help you track key performance metrics that are aligned with a specific goal, campaign, or strategy.
Deciding which kind of dashboard you need will help you make your dashboard more purposive and goal-oriented, rather than just a random assortment of widgets, blocks, and features. For community and content managers we’ve created the Open Social dashboard extension that serves as the perfect operational dashboard.
What do I need on my dashboard (and what can I do without)?
Start with the most essential things you’ll need on your dashboard, and build out from there. Often times software platforms give us the option to add as many widgets or features as are available.
Even when you think more features will give you more useful information, you will soon discover that you only really use a few key pieces of content. So pick a few key features you need, and try and hide as much of the rest as possible! Having a simple, minimal dashboard can actually allow you to be much more efficient and effective.
What do my users need?
Maybe you’re not creating a dashboard for yourself, but setting one up for a different end-user. Open Social’s dashboard extension, for example, lets community or content managers set up dashboards for regular users. Don’t just assume you know what users want, ask them for input and feedback.
What should be ‘above the fold’?
There is a concept in web-design that comes from newspaper printing: that the most important information should always be ‘above the fold’. In newspapers, this means that the most important information should always be above the middle-fold of the front-page. For websites, the most important information should be above the point where you have to start scrolling down. While everything is still technically on the home page (or front-page!), some information gets seen immediately.
Make sure that the most important information, streams, or metrics are ‘above the fold’, i.e. where you can see them without having to scroll down.
What insights do I get at-a-glance?
Do a simple five-second test. This is a test used in user-research where someone has only five-seconds to look at a screen and then report back on what information they were able to glean from it.
A good dashboard gives you the ability to gain key insights at-a-glance. Rather than having to manually extract information, data, or metrics and make sense of it all in a spreadsheet outside of your dashboard, you should be able to use your dashboard as an interface that allows you to make informed decisions and take informed actions.
Try placing related metrics and data-streams next to each other. With the possibility of side-by-side comparisons, you are able to get an intuitive sense of what is going on in your dashboard. When you are done, do the five-second test, even just with yourself, and see if your dashboard gives you good at-a-glance insights.
A good Open Social dashboard helps you manage your community better
Open Social’s dashboard extension aims to give community managers and content managers a lean, clean, and customizable dashboard to gain an at-a-glance overview of the information and content most important to them and their communities.
Having an organized Open Social dashboard gives you the ability to organize the most relevant insights from your community in blocks on your dashboard. This can allow you to manage events, discussions, ideas, and user-interactions better, giving you an idea of how active and popular each piece of content is. You will be able to determine what your community is most interested in and consequently make informed decisions as a community manager, as well as respond quickly to community activity thanks to your at-a-glance overview of what is happening.
An organized dashboard can also help you use your Open Social platform more effectively, allowing you to place quick-links and multiple activity streams where they are easily reachable – turning your dashboard into an operational hub from which you can work comfortably.
How to add a dashboard to your Open Social platform
If you want to add this extension to your Open Social platform you can simply make an extension request and our consultants will help you upgrade.