Excel dashboards make it easy to perform overviews of large data tracks, making quick and urgent decisions since one can go through a lot of information within a short period. The dashboard helps track key performance indicators easily, which helps organizations track the progress on their targets.
Why Should you Design a Dashboard in Excel?
Excel is a universal learning tool
Most people are familiar with Excel. In a training session, its use is to do something with a tool, unless you prefer pen and paper.
Improved Excel skills
Designing a dashboard in Excel is a perfect project if you want to improve your Excel skills. You have to make several charts and techniques work together, manage the data, the user interface, find chart types with smaller visual footprints (i.e., managing screen real estate).
Exploring new chart types
Excel allows you to have fun trying to find new ways of communicating with charts, unlike other tools that make you take a more structured approach and are less flexible when it comes to chart design and formatting.
Excel is used to learn how to make better charts
A lot of charts are made in Excel every single day. Microsoft provides an endless stream of useful defaults for our exercises.
A dashboard is a process of self-discovery
The more charts and the more datasets we add, the more personal that perspectives become. Two people using the same datasets will have different data visualization styles and interpretations because of other priorities. When you use your data to design a dashboard, you will better understand the data itself and how you use it.
Prototyping dashboards in Excel
Disdaining Excel as a proper dashboard tool is easy, but you need to separate Excel as a designing tool from Excel as a production tool. People should never consider Excel as a production tool in many cases. Because you know your data more than anyone else, it is easy to design a dashboard since you know what is relevant to you and how you want it to be shared. In this case, Excel can play an appropriate role as a designing tool. Knowing your data is a far better starting point than endless requirement meetings where a consultant without subject matter expertise tries to understand what you are saying you need.
A dashboard helps you find a line of thought
When you use data visualization, the narrative is a much better word, just like how geographical landscape is a better term for the dashboard.
Designing a dashboard for tool evaluation
It is easier for me to understand what each vendor has to offer and how close they can get to my original design if I know what I need, how I need it, and translate it into a dashboard. Also, be prepared to be surprised as other tools can offer better alternatives.
A functional dashboard provides better feedback
A closer look and feel at the real thing will help the users understand what they should expect and provide better and more detailed feedback. Try to get accurate data and spend time working on the dashboard to make it as real as possible.
How to Design the Dashboard?
Add strong contrast to headings. Subtle distinctions on alternating table rows will improve readability. Show relationships with alignment, for example, table alignment, balance small elements with large elements. You can pick from Excel gauge widgets, static tables, pivot tables, dynamic charts. Non-charting objects or any other features you want to include on your dashboard.
You can ruin all your efforts with a missing or wrong chart type. Choosing the right data visualization type is vital. There is a chart type to suit your goals depending on what you want to communicate or show; for example, you can choose to add many small charts or a couple of big charts.Determining the features you want to add to your dashboard helps you assemble similar data together and gives you an idea of the presentation.
The Dashboard Background-Color:
Removing background colors keeps the dashboard charts clear and straightforward hence getting the information across quickly. Use brighter or colors to highlight keywords but use them sparingly. Otherwise, use muted colors.You can pick two or three colors and play with gradients. Users may feel lost if a dashboard only contains intense colors, and they wouldn’t know what to look at first. You should use the same color for identical items across all charts, making the dashboard more understandable.It is crucial to stay consistent and not use many different colors on your dashboard.
Enhancing Dashboard UI:
You could add hierarchy to the layout for easy navigation and prevent users from scrolling, adding drop-down lists, labels to each graph with auto-shape objects, or using freeze panes.
Attributes of a Dashboard
Align with goals
Dashboards often display only data that is relevant to the goal of the dashboard. For example, most investors have goals and objectives for their money. Each investor designs plans differently. Since Excel dashboards track key performance indicators easily (KPI’s), good KPI’s will show the progress towards capital goals. Once relevant key performance indicators that match the investment goals are known, the dashboard is customized to align.
Use the right visuals
Dashboards are typically graphical, providing visualizations that focus on key trends, comparisons, and exceptions. For example, investment goals drive the data visualization used in the dashboard. If the goal is to diversify the portfolio, a pie chart would better reflect the capital distribution.
Place numbers into context
Data does not exist in isolation. For example, the relationships between key data sets help the investors to understand the information. For users to understand influences quickly, well-designed dashboards group related data sets.
Keep data current
For users to modify their performance according to real-time market changes, a useful dashboard provides data to help them achieve that. Displaying outdated data does a disservice to its users. For example, if investment goals change, the primary measurements change because the dashboard must reflect the new objectives.
Excel Dashboard Templates
Excel dashboards can look quite different depending on business needs. To get you started with a dashboard, we’ve compiled the top Excel dashboard templates (compatible with earlier versions of Excel, including Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) that you can download for free. Download today to get started.
Frequently Asked Questions
The dashboard information must be current and accurate, i.e., real-time data. Current and accurate information is crucial when it comes to review the data and make critical decisions. Up to date information will ensure that everyone involved in critical decision making has the data available.
The way you build your dashboard will change depending on what you had chosen. Depending on what you chose, this will change the way you build your dashboard.
It depends on what type of dashboard you want to use. There are three types;
1) Operational dashboards that tell you what is happening now.
2) Strategic dashboards that help in tracking key performance indicators.
3) Analytical dashboards that process data to identify trends.
1) Import the relevant data to Excel.
2) Set up your Excel dashboard file.
3) Create a table with raw data.
4) Analyze the data.
5) Build the dashboard
6) Customize with macros, color, and more.
1) Gather data that you will use in building the chart.
2) Highlight the data and select a chart that applies.
3) Copy and paste your chart into a separate worksheet.
4) Resize your charts.
5) Ensure your Excel dashboard template is sized appropriately for the place you are going to display it.
1) Be clear about what you want to achieve.
2) Only include what’s essential.
3) Use size and position to show hierarchy.
4) Give your numbers context.
5) Group your related metrics.
6) Be consistent.
7) Use clear labels for your audience.
8) You need to round your numbers.
9) Keep evolving your dashboard.
The Dashboards ease decision making processes by showing accurate, vital, and up to date data to those involved in making important decisions. We can highlight the dashboard’s critical information in brighter or darker colors, but muted colors are advisable.
The dashboard’s data or information must be accurate and current (real-time data) so that users can modify their performance. An investor benefits from current information as it makes it easy for them to make decisions. Try to get real data and spend more time working on the dashboard to make it as authentic as possible. Dashboards are usually graphical, providing visualizations that focus on key trends. For example, capital distribution is better reflected in a pie chart.