Dashboarding - effective data visualization made easy

What is dashboarding?

It sounds complicated, but it's actually quite simple: dashboarding is the process of creating and using dashboards. These help with the visualization of data and decision-making.

Dashboards explained simply

Dashboards are a visually appealing presentation of otherwise rather sober to boring figures. Dashboards are used to present figures graphically.

Imagine a dashboard like the dashboard in your car. On it you can see various Display such as speed, fuel gauge, temperature and much more. 

These displays help you to understand how your car is working and what is currently happening. And all this in a very clear way.

Let's take the fuel gauge for example: we usually only need to know whether the tank is full, half full or only a quarter full. 

If the dashboard were to tell me "16.8 liters" now, I wouldn't know the ratio (Half full? A quarter full?).

With a user-friendly, interactive dashboard, our brains can therefore grasp much more quickly what the current status is and when I need to take action. If the tank is only a quarter full, I should plan a refueling stop soon. So it's not just about the static presentation of the KPI, but also the design in the front end (diagrams, functionalities, forms of presentation).

Dashboarding is a technique that is used in the context of business intelligence (BI). The main aim of BI is to enable better business decisions by providing precisely this up-to-date, meaningful, processed data. 

Advantages: Why dashboarding is so important

  • Simplified data visualization: Dashboards can transform complex data sets into easy-to-understand graphs and charts that allow users to easily recognize patterns or trends.
  • Data in real time: Many dashboards can update data in real time, enabling constant monitoring and rapid response to changing business conditions.
  • Promoting data-driven decisions: Instead of opinions, we can now base our decisions on data.
  • Time saving: Instead of having to go through numerous reports, dashboards provide quick access to all important information in one place.
  • Easily accessible and divisible: Dashboards can usually be accessed across different devices and easily shared with other team members. This promotes transparency, collaboration and communication.
  • Improvement in productivity: Dashboards automate data analysis and reporting. More time for core tasks!
  • Power measurement: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are constantly monitored in order to measure and improve the performance of various business areas.
  • Identification of trends and patterns: The visual representation of data on a dashboard allows users to easily recognize trends, patterns and deviations, which can lead to valuable business insights.
  • Improvement of data quality: Inconsistencies and errors in the data are detected more quickly thanks to the visualization.

Dashboarding helps to manage departments and companies more effectively and make better business decisions. A well-designed dashboard provides a clear and consistent view of the performance of departments, processes and projects.

The real-time data in reporting makes it possible to recognize trends and patterns immediately and to react quickly to changes based on the analysis.

User-friendly data visualization promotes a data-driven corporate culture internally. This makes it easier for all employees to interpret complex information.

By focusing on relevant KPIs and key figures, bottlenecks and potential can also be identified and resources deployed in a targeted manner. Dashboarding provides valuable insights that can optimize strategic planning and operational implementation and lead to sustainable success.

Create a dashboard in 6 steps

Developing dashboards is often the best way. Of course, templates or best practices can help. But a dashboard should always be tailor-made. Standardization is not always helpful here.

If you want to create a dashboard, it is therefore important to understand that it is better not to start with templates for dashboards. The dashboard should always be based on the requirements of your company. A Formula 1 driver wants to see completely different values on a dashboard than a truck driver.

  1. Define goal
    Before you start building a dashboard, you should understand exactly what you want to achieve. What questions are you trying to answer? What decisions are you trying to support? This will help you select the right data and design your dashboards to support your goals.
  2. Define the addressee (user)
    Who is the dashboard intended for? When it comes to management, different values are required than for a marketing expert. The management wants to make strategic decisions, the marketing expert wants to derive operational decisions. User requirements should be recorded.
  3. Conception and wireframing
    Before we really get down to implementation, we need a sensible concept. Think about how you want to present your data. Which chart types are best suited to visualize your data? How can you design your dashboard so that it's easy to understand and use? Create a non-functional wireframe (optionally a prototype) to get a feel for whether your ideas work.
  4. Define data sources and interfaces
    Clearly, the heart of every dashboard is the data. You have to decide which data sources (e.g. Google Ads, HubSpot or Shopware) you will use and how you will collect this data. The data must then be put into a format that can be read by your dashboard software.
  5. Select tool
    Once the requirements have been defined, it is the right time to select the right tool (see below: Dashboarding tools). Here it can sometimes make sense to plan time for an exploration phase of the tools. List tools, make a preselection and test the relevant tools in practice.
  6. Build your dashboard
    Now it's time for the implementation: Depending on the software you are using, there are different processes for creating a dashboard. Many modern dashboard tools offer a drag-and-drop interface that allows you to drag and drop elements onto your dashboard.
  7. Inspect & Adapt
    We remain dynamic: Once the dashboard is built, you should test it to make sure it works properly and provides the desired information. Think about whether it meets your needs and whether it is intuitive and easy to understand for other users. Involve the users and ask them directly. Be ready to make changes and improve your dashboard.

Creating a professional dashboard requires good project management. Various success factors such as data quality, standardization, company information or comprehensibility determine the success or failure of dashboarding.

Failure can have far-reaching consequences. If the wrong KPIs (key performance indicators) are considered, for example, this can lead to wrong decisions in the company.

Types of dashboards

Different dashboards can be created depending on the usage scenario. From pure campaign dashboards in marketing (e.g. for paid ads) or cross-departmental campaigns for marketing, purchasing, sales, controlling, IT, etc. 

The target group (who is the dashboard aimed at?) also influences the type of dashboard. Here are a few examples:

  1. Business Dashboards: Provides a comprehensive overview of the business situation and shows important key figures and performance indicators for various areas of the company such as finance, sales, marketing, human resources and customer service.
  2. Performance Dashboards: These dashboards focus on tracking the performance of a company or department. This helps to measure the progress of projects, campaigns or processes or to identify bottlenecks, high stock levels or successes/failures.
  3. Marketing Dashboards: Marketing dashboards relate to marketing activities. They show data on Website-traffic, social media engagement, conversion rates and other marketing metrics to assess the effectiveness of marketing efforts. More about marketing dashboards here.
  4. Financial dashboards: Financial dashboards provide an overview of a company's financial health. They contain data on revenues, expenses, cash flow, profit and loss statements and other financial ratios. Typical users are controllers in a company.
  5. Social media dashboards: These dashboards show data and metrics from various social media platforms. They enable companies to analyze the performance of their social media strategy, track the success of posts and campaigns and optimize social media engagement.
  6. HR dashboards: In the HR department, dashboards can help to monitor employee satisfaction, track personnel development and react to undesirable developments at an early stage. This can increase employee retention and prevent staff shortages.

Of course, this is only a small selection of the types of dashboards available. Depending on the specific requirements, customized dashboards are usually created for data-driven decision-making processes.

Dashboarding tools

Dashboards can be created with many tools, all of which offer a different range of functions. The most common tools include Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and Google Looker Studio (formerly Data Studio). The choice of the right tool depends heavily on the specific requirements and budget. It is important to choose a tool that best meets the requirements.

Google Looker Studio

The fastest and most favorable results can be achieved with Looker Studio from Google create. Thanks to the numerous connectors, the tool is ideal for anyone who wants to retrieve data from common platforms (HubSpot, Facebook, Google Analytics, Google Ads, LinkedIn, Shopify, etc.).

Microsoft Power BI 

In contrast to the Looker Studio, there are Power BI from Microsoft currently fewer connectors "out of the box". On the other hand, Power BI scores with more flexible data management: adjustments can be made to the raw material.


Tableau is ideal for more complex or larger data sets. If you have big data as a challenge, Tableau offers the possibility for extensive data processing and manipulation. The extensive selection of visualization types and customization options is also impressive. However, Tableau comes at a corresponding cost.

5 common mistakes in dashboarding

If you want to implement dashboarding in your company, you should bring some know-how with you (or get support). Especially in the important conception phase, some things are often neglected, which later can lead to wrong decisions.

  1. The most common mistakes we see time and again are Missing targets and consequently the Defining the wrong KPIs. And if you look at the wrong KPIs, you will inevitably end up making the wrong adjustments.
  2. The excessive complexity of dashboards should also be avoided. It is advisable to only integrate as many illustrations as necessary. If you want to illustrate too much data, you make it unnecessarily difficult for the user later on. 
  3. The data should also be viewed and categorized together on a regular basis. A dashboard is useless without interpreting the data and then deriving appropriate actions.
  4. You eat with your eyes: Colors, layout and typography play an important role in the comprehensibility and user-friendliness of a dashboard. A poor visual design can lead to users overlooking or misunderstanding important information.
  5. If you have little or no experience in dashboarding, you should seek professional support at the beginning. Mistakes in the creation of dashboards can have serious consequences for a company.

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