5 key practices for building informative analytics dashboards

In today's data-driven world, the ability to deliver and consume insights in a concise yet effective way is crucial for businesses. A well-defined dashboard serves this need by facilitating a central hub of data insights that provide both an at-a-glance and a detailed view of key metrics, trends, and actionable insights.

In this blog, we outline five key practices for building informative analytics dashboards. By following these steps, BI users can transform dashboards from being a mere static chart aggregator into a powerful tool that empowers decision-makers.

Here are the five best practices:

  1. Plan your story

  2. Make it interactive

  3. Augment with AI

  4. Get creative

  5. Design for different form factors

1. Plan your story

A dashboard's ultimate goal is to tell a compelling data story. To achieve this, start by understanding your audience and setting clear objectives aligned with their needs. Once the objectives are defined, identify relevant metrics and KPIs that support them. Finally, plan an engaging and comprehensible presentation format for these key insights.

To gain a better understanding of what we mean, explore the business executive dashboard below. It presents crucial data insights specifically curated for business executives, with separate tabs that focus on different aspects of the business. This centralized hub offers a holistic view of key information in one convenient location.

2. Make it interactive

Making a dashboard comprehensible is not only about well-organized insights—it extends well beyond that into how flexibly users can interact with the insights on the dashboard. Modern BI platforms offer numerous capabilities that enable ad-hoc analysis, allowing users to explore data on their own terms and uncover deeper insights for agile decision-making.

For instance, in the Sales by region report embedded below, you can perform a drill-down analysis into the data by following these steps:

  1. Click on a data point (state) on the geo map

  2. Select Drill-down by...

  3. Select Lead Source

Performing this drill-down analysis enables you to reveal detailed insights about the different lead sources that have contributed to sales in a specific state. This dynamic drill-down capability is not limited to a single layer, allowing you to explore further levels of detail as well.

3. Augment with AI

AI is the talk of the town, and the rapid advancements being made in this area are helping automate complex analytics operations while still delivering accurate results. AI capabilities in BI platforms can also democratize analytics to a large extent, enabling users with even minimal technical know-how to interact with data and perform analysis.

In the screenshot below, we showcase an important AI-powered capability—automated insights. With automated insights, you get instant insights on your reports and dashboards that give you a jump-start on decision-making. In Zoho Analytics, this capability can be accessed as Zia Insights.

4. Get creative

Unleash creativity in your dashboards to captivate your audience. Through smart use of colors, themes, and layouts, you can draw attention to specific insights while maintaining brand consistency. Modern dashboards allow you to incorporate creative elements such as text, images, videos, and other multimedia components, enhancing dashboard comprehension and engagement.

In the following demo video, you can check out the various creative elements used in a dashboard created for the Indian Premier League(IPL), a popular cricket league. These elements let you customize the aesthetic and design of the dashboard, enhancing the overall visual appeal and user experience.

5. Design for different form factors

Today, we're on our devices all the time. Designing for different form factors means having the ability to take your analytics with you, no matter which device you're on. Some BI platforms today let you access your dashboards across a range of devices. This improves convenience for users.

Furthermore, these dashboards are designed with contextual relevance, which means delivering the right capabilities through the right channel. For instance, mobile dashboards may prioritize real-time alerts or KPIs that are relevant for on-the-go decision-making, while desktop dashboards may provide in-depth analytics and advanced features for in-office analysis.

In the video below, you can check out mobile dashboards powered by Zoho Analytics.


By implementing the best practices outlined in this blog—such as planning a compelling data story, creating interactivity, leveraging AI, embracing creativity, and designing for different form factors—organizations can transform their dashboards into powerful enablers. According to our BI survey, 67% of users believe that dashboards help identify new business opportunities and improve decision-making. Empowering decision-makers with informative dashboards is key to unlocking success in this data-driven landscape.

Watch our complete webinar on building informative analytics dashboards.

You can also sign up for Zoho Analytics today, or schedule a free personalized demo with one of our experts.


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