An Excel dashboard is considered an analytics tool that is used to present summarized data of related information into one view. This visual representation of allows teams to observe trends, patterns, suggest solutions, and track performance. Excel dashboards are often built using spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Types of Excel Dashboards

  • Kanban Board: for tracking project progress
  • Scorecard: for visualizing KPIs
  • Geographic Map: for analysis of performance at a location-level
  • Pie Chart: for illustrating data in parts of a whole
  • Power View: for displaying data interactively

Common Misconceptions of Excel Dashboard Design

Excel Dashboards are an efficient way to aggregate and visualize data, making it easier for users to identify trends, outliers, and other opportunities. However, because they’re relatively new and not yet a commonplace tool, there are plenty of misconceptions surrounding Excel Dashboards that make people hesitant to use them. Let’s break down some of the most common misconceptions of Excel Dashboard design.

They’re too difficult to design

This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. While it is true that Excel Dashboards require a bit of extra time and energy to set up, they’re actually quite easy to design. With the help of templates, users can quickly and easily create Excel dashboards that are tailored specifically to their needs. Not to mention, there are plenty of online resources available to help users learn the ropes and ensure their Excel Dashboards are designed correctly.

They’re not dynamic enough

One of the most common misconceptions about Excel Dashboards is that they’re not dynamic enough. This misconception is unfounded, as Excel Dashboards are actually very dynamic, allowing users to easily adapt and adjust the dashboard to their needs or preferences. For example, users can easily add or remove columns, apply filters, and sort rows to customize data views.

Real-time data isn’t possible

Excel Dashboards can, in fact, provide real-time data. With the help of a few connected services, users can quickly and easily set up their dashboards to receive and display data in real-time. This can be incredibly useful for tracking progress, keeping an eye on KPIs, and catching any potential issues before they become an issue.

They’re Page Constrained

The misconception that Excel Dashboards are page constrained is unfounded, as it’s actually quite easy to work around this limitation. For example, users can employ the use of “slicers” to toggle between different pages of data, or they can employ the use of “cross tables” to display larger data sets on a single page. Additionally, there are several online resources available for users who are looking for tips and tricks to optimizing their Excel Dashboard designs.

Benefits of Excel Dashboard Design

Excel dashboards are a powerful tool for working with data, because they give you a comprehensive view of your information – arranging it in a way that’s easy to read, understand, and manage. Excel dashboards can help any business with their data gathering and analysis, and there are several benefits to this type of data analysis tool.

Streamlined and organized data

The primary benefit of an Excel dashboard is that it provides a clear and organized view of your data. It takes raw data and puts it into digestible chunks, allowing you to quickly understand what it’s telling you. This can help you make more informed decisions, and it’s much easier to identify any inconsistencies or problems in the data. Excel dashboards also make it easy to compare different sets of data, so you can make more accurate predictions and assessments.

Visuals are easier to comprehend

An Excel dashboard makes it easier to understand your data by providing a visual representation of the information. Color-coded graphs and charts make it easier to quickly identify patterns and trends in the data, and this can help you to understand what the data is telling you quickly and accurately. Excel dashboards also allow you to easily apply filters to the data, so you can look at the data from different perspectives and get a more complete picture of the situation.

Accessible to multiple users

Finally, an Excel dashboard makes it easy to share your data with multiple users. As long as users have access to the Excel dashboard, they can view real-time data, helping to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This can help you to make more informed decisions, and it simplifies the process of gathering, analyzing, and distributing data.

Different Types of Excel Dashboard Tools

Excel dashboards are a great way to display and analyze comprehensive datasets. However, there are many misconceptions about Excel dashboards, and understanding the different types of Excel dashboard tools can be a great way to start a successful dashboard design project.

Charting is Easy

Many people mistakenly believe that creating charts in Excel is an easy process. In reality, there is a lot of work that goes into creating a well-designed chart, such as choosing the right type of chart for the data, and customizing the chart to ensure that it is legible and communicates the data accurately.

Automatic Data Formatting

Another misconception is that Excel dashboards can automatically format data. Excel does have some automatic data formatting functions, such as the Conditional Formatting tool, which can be used to quickly highlight and colorize values, but it is important to be aware of the limitations of these tools.

Report Snapshots

Finally, some people mistake Excel dashboards for report snapshots. While an Excel dashboard can be used to generate a snapshot of a dataset at a certain moment in time, Excel dashboards should be used as much more than that. With a well-designed dashboard, it is possible to compare datasets over a period of time, identify trends, and draw conclusions from the data.

Best Practices for Excel Dashboard Design

Having an effective excel dashboard design allows businesses to track their performance and monitor any changes over time. This understanding of how their company is faring helps managers make decisions and plan for the future. Despite the common confusion over proper dashboard design, the following practices should be kept in mind when creating an excel dashboard.

Quality visuals

It's important to keep visuals clear and simple. An excel dashboard should be easy to read and understand at a basic glance. Data should be organized and understandable with intuitive visuals. Nowadays, excel dashboards have become increasingly interactive with features like buttons and slicers. These features can help transform what looks like a lot of data into an understandable visual presentation. However, care should be taken not to add too many features as this can confuse viewers.

Highlight important data

Data should be presented in such a way that the most important information stands out when compared to the rest. A practice that could help this is to set a color hierarchy for data that is more important or less important make sure the highlighting remains consistent throughout. Additionally, it can be helpful to organize data in such a way that the most important categories are towards the beginning of the dashboard so users don't have to scroll to the bottom for the most important information.

Understand the data contained

Ensuring data accuracy is paramount for a successful dashboard design. Before any design begins, be sure all numbers come from reliable data sources and that all calculations have been double-checked. It's never a good idea to design dashboards with incorrect data, as this can lead to bad decision making.

Once all the data has been checked and double-checked, consider formatting the dashboard to emphasize the point you want to convey. This could be done through the use of charts which can help users truly understand the data presented and make sure it is interpreted in the right way.


Excel dashboards are a great tool to help present information in a clear and concise way. Proper dashboard design requires an understanding of how data is organized and presented. Being mindful of data accuracy, quality visuals, and highlighting important data will help ensure the effectiveness of an excel dashboard.

Final Tips on Excel Dashboard Design

When creating an Excel dashboard, there are many important factors to consider to ensure success, including taking the time to properly test and measure the results and seeking feedback from other users. Consider the following tips for creating an effective Excel dashboard experience.

Take time to test and measure

Before you show your Excel dashboard to potential users, you should take the time to test it with small groups of people. Ask your testers to make sure that the dashboard includes all the necessary data, and ask them to measure the accuracy of the data as well. By testing the dashboard with small groups in advance, you can make sure that the final dashboard will be well-received by your audience.

Get feedback from other users

No matter how well you think you have designed your Excel dashboard, you should always get feedback from other users. Ask users to review the dashboard and give you their honest opinion. This will help you address any issues that may not be immediately obvious from your perspective. Additionally, user feedback will give you insights into what works well and what could use improvement.

  • Test the Excel dashboard with small groups of people before launching it.
  • Request feedback from other users to get honest opinions on the design.


Excel dashboards are powerful tools for data analysis. They are easy to learn, manage, and use and are also capable of creating powerful and informative visualizations. While Excel dashboards have many strengths and capabilities, there are some common misconceptions that can cause problems in their design and implementation. It is important to understand these misconceptions in order to design and deploy effective dashboards.

Understanding when to use Excel to design a dashboard and the best practices for data analysis and visualization is key to creating a successful dashboard. Not only will this help you avoid common pitfalls and misconceptions, it can also help you create meaningful visualizations that are easy to understand. By familiarizing yourself with the various components of an effective dashboard, you can design and develop dashboards that are both effective and informative.

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