An Excel Dashboard is an advanced analytic tool used to visualize the performance of a business, analyze trends, and track key metrics all in one place. An Excel Dashboard enables users to easily monitor and analyze detailed data to gain insights and make better strategic decisions.
What are the Benefits of Excel Dashboards?
- Provide a real-time view of key performance data
- Enable data-driven decision-making
- Graphically represent data in visually appealing ways
- Provide an easy way to monitor progress over time
Advanced Tips for Creating Excel Dashboards
This blog post provides advanced tips for creating Excel Dashboards to help you produce visually engaging and informative data insights. With these tips, you will be able to create impactful dashboards that can be used to identify trends, track progress, and make better business decisions.
Steps to Creating an Excel Dashboard
Creating a comprehensive dashboard in Microsoft Excel can be a daunting task, but armed with the right knowledge and tools, anyone can create an effective analytics dashboard. Knowing the right process and steps to follow will help make the process easier so let’s get started.
Define the Goals of the Dashboard
The first step to creating an effective Excel analytics dashboard is to understand what you’re trying to achieve. Having clearly defined goals for your dashboard will give you direction and help you identify what type of data, metrics and KPIs (key performance indicators) you will need to track to achieve them.
Gather the Needed Data
Once you have a clear understanding of the dashboard you’re trying to create, the next step is to gather the relevant data. This could be data from surveys, customer transaction records, customer feedback reports, financial data, etc. Make sure to have your data well organized, either in Excel or in another data source, and readily available when you’re ready to start building your dashboard.
Select Appropriate Charts/Graphs
When building a dashboard you will have a range of visualization options available to you. Depending on what type of data you’re trying to convey, some charts and graphs will work better than others. For example, bar graphs are best for comparing different data sets, scatter and line graphs for tracking trends and relationships, and pie charts for displaying proportions and percentages.
Best Practices for Building Dashboards
Creating powerful, intuitive dashboards takes a lot of skill, practice, and experience. Dashboards enable us to quickly scan, understand and identify insights from layers of data from individual metrics to complex sets of KPIs. As more organizations rely on data-driven decisions, understanding how to effectively develop and maintain powerful dashboards is essential. Here, we provide useful tips and best practices to help you make the most out of your dashboard creation.
Separate Calculations from Presentation
Start by separating the initial calculation of data from how it’s presented. Data queries should be separate from the look, layout and design aspects of the dashboard. This will help ensure your data pipeline is clean and secure, and can easily be changed and adapted without rebuilding the entire dashboard. Additionally, by separating these aspects, it’s easier to make changes to the calculations without having to rebuild the presentation layer.
Use Design Principles
Data visualization helps in understanding complex data quickly, but in order to ensure it is conveyed clearly and accurately, its important to make use of basic design principles. Strive to create a visual narrative or story for the dashboard, making sure the user is presented with the most important information first, and then building on the details. Furthermore, make use of color, labels and text to convey the most important data points in the least amount of time. Finally, make use of symbols, tables, charts and graphs to efficiently display the data, making sure to size, scale, and position them accordingly on the dashboard.
Create Easy Navigation
Make sure your dashboard is easy to navigate. There should a clear structure, allowing the user to easily determine the hierarchy of the data. Navigation should also be consistent, helping the user orient themselves quickly. Additionally, you could also include elements such as halos, highlights and notes to support the user in understanding the purpose of each dashboard and its individual components.
Overall, creating a successful dashboard relies on mastering both the front-end look and feel, as well as the design, analysis and calculations that power it. By understanding the data, visualizing clearly and using effective design principles, you can ensure your dashboard will quickly and accurately provide the insights you need.
Tools for Building Dashboards
Gathering data for an Excel dashboard means nothing if the data isn’t presented in an easy-to-understand format. There are a few tools available to help create interactive Excel dashboards.
Excel Dashboard Templates
Excel dashboard templates are a great way to get started. They're designed exclusively for dashboard creation and help organize and present data. They can also be customized with specific details, such as company logos, colors and fonts. A few of the more popular dashboard templates include Windward Designer, XLCubed, and Tableau.
Excel Dashboard Add-ins
Excel dashboard add-ins are a great way to create an interactive dashboard, without the need for complicated coding. These add-ins add a range of features and charts to Excel, including heat maps, bullet charts, and Gantt charts. They are simple to use, and can quickly create an effective dashboard. Some of the more popular add-ins are Nexget, EZAnalyze, and DashX.
Dashboard software is a great way to create a visually appealing dashboard. Programs like Chartio, SAS Visual Analytics, and Microsoft Power BI offer a range of features for creating customized dashboards. They can be used to create detailed analyses and reports, or to present data in a more creative way.
Advanced Excel Dashboard Features
Taking your Excel dashboards to the next level requires an understanding of the advanced features available. In this section, we will discuss some of these features and how they can boost the usability and utility of your dashboards.
Filtering our reports gives us the ability to hone in on only the data that pertains to our analysis. With this type of feature, we can target which records or categories of records should be shown in the dashboard. This can be done through either drop-down menus or interactive visual elements. With this advanced tool, we can quickly get to the key metrics that inform our decision-making.
Dynamic charting allows us to quickly adjust the data source or chart type used in our dashboard. This is especially useful when making comparisons since a different chart type can help to make the relevant data points stand out more clearly. Additionally, with dynamic charting, we can select the desired values for an element in our chart. This is a great timesaver for quickly creating charts for comparison.
Automated Email Subscriptions
For an additional level of automation, consider setting up automated email subscriptions. This type of feature will allow us to set times and conditions for when a report should be sent out. This could be useful in situations when a notification is required to get immediate feedback on a specific report.
Best Practices for Reporting with Dashboards
Reporting dashboards in Excel can be an essential part of any business analytics strategy. While Excel may be straightforward to use, there are certain best practices that can help take your dashboard to the next level. To ensure the most impactful, and informative dashboards, keep in mind the following best practices when creating and utilizing them.
Measure Key Performance Indicators
The first best practice when creating a dashboard is to track key performance indicators (KPIs). By focusing on only the most important elements of your business, you provide a better understanding and insight into the overall business performance. Make sure to evaluate the KPIs for relevance, and adjust them when needed.
Use Data Visualization
Data visualization is an important part of any dashboard. By visualizing data, complex concepts are explained quickly and more effectively than raw numerical data. From line graphs to histograms to pie charts and more, choose the data visualization type that best suits the data you’re trying to display. Just remember to keep it simple and limit the use of colors.
Choose the Right Type of Chart
The type of chart you choose should depend on your goals and how you want to convey the data you’re presenting. Consider using different types of charts for different data sets. For example, for time-based data, a line chart may be the best option, as it clearly shows the trend over a specified period of time. If comparing different groups of data, then a bar chart may be the better option.
Creating an interactive, effective Excel dashboard can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With careful planning and the right tools, anyone can create a visually stunning and informative dashboard to get the insights they need in the most efficient way possible.
In conclusion, here is a summary of our tips for creating a great Excel dashboard:
- Review your data thoroughly to know what kind of visualizations are necessary.
- Ensure the dashboard data is being presented in an organized, logical and user-friendly way.
- Choose visualizations that are easy to interpret.
- Make use of templates, formatting and other features to create an aesthetically pleasing and organized dashboard.
- Keep the design clean, minimalistic, and organized.
- Test the dashboard to make sure the visuals and data are correct.
- Set up indicators or alert systems for potential shifts in trends and patterns.
Tips for Ongoing Success with Visualizing Data
Creating a great Excel dashboard isn’t a one-and-done task. As the data changes and you continue to learn more about your users, you should adjust and optimize your dashboard accordingly.
Here are a few tips that will help you maintain a successful dashboard over the long-term:
- Use a color palette that is consistent and easy to understand.
- Leave some white space as it can help draw attention to the most important parts of the dashboard.
- Consult with data specialists or user experience experts if needed.
- Regularly schedule time to review and test the dashboard.
- Improve the dashboard by collecting user input or feedback.
Now that you have a better understanding of the steps and techniques to create an effective Excel dashboard, you are well on your way to visualizing and analyzing data with ease.