Dashboards, when developed thoughtfully, can be a valuable tool for home builders. When designed well a dashboard can provide quick insight and guidance to help you market and sell new homes. To create the most value in any dashboard you create, you need to ask yourself and your team a few simple questions to begin mapping out your design.
One of the biggest pitfalls when creating a dashboard is including too much information. A dashboard is meant to be simple and easy to understand quickly. Think of a baseball scoreboard. The board itself shows main data points; the score, strikes and outs; so the audience can easily understand how the game is going. Can you imagine if all of the other game statistics were included on the scoreboard? It would be quite difficult to read and understand.
A dashboard is simply your guide to see trends or changes, with the ability to notify you if you need to dive deeper into your data sources. Ideally, this is something you can look at in the morning for five minutes each day or each week to help you identify any actions you need to take.
Try to simplify this down to one to three questions that need to be answered for each page of your dashboard. These questions will be used as your guide for choosing your metrics, and even the date range that needs to be covered.
Common Questions: Are we on track to meet our sales goals? How is our sales funnel performing? Are our advertising efforts providing value? Are there any changes to our website traffic? Are there any changes to market conditions?
The content of a dashboard can vary greatly by the intended viewer. The marketing team will need to see more detailed metrics and data than the CEO. As you consider the viewer, also make sure to know how the dashboard will be used. Will it be quickly viewed as an overview of marketing or sales performance and market conditions in a leadership meeting, or will it be used to help guide improvements to individual marketing campaigns?
For this step, take the question(s) that need to be answered, and determine which metrics need to be used. Also, make sure to keep the viewer in mind. For your CEO you will want to create a strategic dashboard, consisting of high-level metrics, without diving too deep.
A Tactical dashboard that will be used by the team involved in the day-to-day operations will need to have more detailed metrics. The danger here is including too many metrics, which will make the dashboard difficult to use properly. Remember, a dashboard is not the place for a deep data dive; it is more of an overview for the team to catch any red flags that need more investigation in your data sources.
For most cases you want to have a date range of at least 30 days, preferably with a comparison against the same time frame the previous year. For a strategic dashboard, you will most likely want to focus on a larger time frame allowing trends to be spotted easily.
The goal of a dashboard is to allow viewers to be able to quickly tell if they are “winning.” To accomplish this the use of the correct charts for your data is especially important.
Line Graph– This is the best chart for showing a metric over a period of time.
Pie/Donut– Best way to show how multiple data points make up a whole. For example the percentage of each traffic source to your website.
Scorecard– This is great for showcasing one metric, and potentially the percent changed from a comparable date range.
Map– Shatter points over a map can be used with geographical data, to show activity on a map. This is great to show where your website traffic or leads are coming from.
Bar– This is best used to compare the values of different metrics within a given time period.
Maintaining a dashboard in Excel can be a time-consuming process, and it always seems that it is not updated when you need it most. While it takes a bit of extra time at the start, setting up a dashboard in Google’s free tool, Data Studio, can save time over the long run. Data Studio can pull in your data from multiple sources to place on a single dashboard that is updated automatically throughout the day.
With the answers to these questions, you have the foundation for a well-designed dashboard. If you are starting a new dashboard from scratch or moving your existing dashboard from Excel to Data Studio, answer them to create a tool that is valuable for your team or organization.
Have questions about getting started in Data Studio? Keep an eye out for future blog posts with Data Studio Tips and Tutorials!
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