Every business needs to make data-driven decisions, and Excel Dashboard Visualizations are a great way to do so. Dashboards enable businesses to make sense of complex data flows, spot trends and outliers, and consider data more holistically. But how do you choose the right dashboard visualization for your business? Read on for 10 essential tips that will help you make the right decision.
Benefits of Excel Dashboard Visualizations
Using dashboard visualizations in Excel can be an extremely useful tool for interpreting complex data. Visualizing data makes it easier to uncover patterns and insights, compare different sets of data, and quickly digest and relay valuable information.
Below are a few of the key benefits of using excel dashboard visualizations:
Simplify Complex Data
Some datasets can be intimidating to look at: large amounts of data, many columns or rows, etc. Dashboard visualizations make it easier to quickly identify key trends and unlock insights from complex data. By clearly displaying data in an easy-to-interpret format, Excel dashboard visualizations can save time and energy when making important decisions.
Pinpoint Data Trends
By providing an overall view of a dataset, dashboard visualizations allow you to identify trends quickly and easily. Spotting important information at a glance can often be difficult with standard data tables, but it’s much simpler with visuals. In Excel, you can use various charts, graphs, and other visual elements to explore the data and spot interesting patterns or correlations.
Unlock Data Insights
Dashboard visuals eliminate the need for manual analysis, enabling you to uncover valuable insights from the data in a fraction of the time. With the proper visuals, you can clearly see how the various data points interact with each other, revealing correlations and trends that might otherwise go unnoticed. This helps you make better data-driven decisions and focus your resources on the most promising opportunities.
Types of Excel Dashboard Visualizations
Tables and Charts
Tables and charts are the two most common Excel dashboard visualizations. Tables are used to display precise numerical data, while charts can be used to convey a wider range of data sets or to add context or perspective to existing data sets.
When considering tables and charts, it’s important to focus on the visualization that is most appropriate for the intended audience or purpose. For instance, pie charts are a great visual tool to reveal the relative importance of items in a data set, while dynamic charts are great for tracking changes over time.
Heat maps are a great way to visualize large amounts of data in a single dashboard. Instead of trying to cram too much into one chart, a heat map can quickly convey different levels of importance with color-coded ranges. Heat maps are also great for quickly visualizing geographic or demographic data.
Conditional formatting is a powerful tool for adding dynamic visual elements to Excel dashboards. By using color-coding or thresholds, visual elements can be incorporated into tables, charts, and heat maps that highlight areas that require attention or further analysis.
Goals of Excel Dashboard Visualization
Excel Dashboard visualizations are a great way to represent data stored in spreadsheets in an easy-to-parse form. Dashboards are powerful tools that allow data to be read quickly and interpreted easily, allowing for the generation of useful insights. Here are 3 essential goals to keep in mind when designing your Excel dashboard visualizations:
Display Data Clearly
Dashboards should be designed to ensure that the data they display can be clearly seen and understood. This means that charting elements should be clear, concise and readable with good color contrast and labeling. Charts should also be appropriately sized, so that relevant data points are not lost due to over-sized elements. It’s also important to remember that data density should be appropriate, as too much information on a single chart may be difficult to read and process.
Understand Data Easily
The goal of any Excel dashboard visualization is to make data easy to understand. This means that labels should be clear and relevant, and that the visual elements used should convey the data accurately. Another useful tip is to be selective about the data points displayed, as too much information can be overwhelming. To make the data even easier to understand, consider adding interactive elements such as hover effects, links and tooltips.
Identify Data Insights
Creating an effective Excel dashboard visualization requires more than just presenting data in a clear and comprehensible way; the dashboard should be designed to help the user uncover interesting insights. This means that the visualization should be structured in such a way that it is easy to identify patterns, correlations and trends. It’s also important to include filters and segmentation options, so that users can easily modify the data set to uncover additional insights.
5. 10 Tips for Choosing the Right Excel Visualization
a. Identify Data Focus
When you start designing an Excel dashboard visualization, it is essential that you identify the focus of the data you want to display. Knowing which data points are the most important can help you determine the type of dashboard you need, as well as how to set up the dashboard once you’ve gathered the data. A well-thought-out data focus is essential to constructing an effective dashboard visualization.
b. Balance Visual Elegance and Functionality
As you design an Excel dashboard, you want to make sure that you’re focusing on the information that matters most and that the presentation is clear and appealing. While aesthetics are important for the success of your dashboard, it's also important to maintain functionality. Aim to create a balance between visual elegance and functionality so that your dashboard is easy to interpret.
c. Simplify Chart Titles
Once you have identified data focus and balances visual elements, it's time to move onto chart titles. As you create chart titles, keep in mind that they should be concise and accurately reflect the data represented in the dashboard. Additionally, consider making the chart titles clickable, allowing users to compare different data sets side-by-side.
d. Use the Right Chart Type
The chart type you choose has a major impact on the overall success of your dashboard. Knowing your data focus and the message you want to convey with your dashboard can be tremendously helpful when choosing a chart type. Take the time to explore the different options available. From line charts and bar charts to histograms and tree maps, there are a number of different charts to choose from when designing an Excel dashboard.
e. Review the Chart Type's Benefits vs. Drawbacks
In addition to exploring the different chart types available, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each type. For example, scatter plots are great for visualizing linear relationships between two variables but may not be suitable for large data sets. Line charts are helpful for charting trends over time, but may be difficult to read for smaller data sets. It's essential that you evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each chart type before you commit to one.
f. Consider the Audience and Decide Appropriately
When choosing a chart type, it's important to consider the audience that will be viewing the dashboard. Is the audience familiar with the data you’re presenting or are they new to the information? How technically savvy are they? This can help you determine which chart type will be effective for presenting the data. Additionally, consider whether your audience needs an interactive dashboard or if a static one will suffice.
g. Tame the Data Clutter
When creating an Excel dashboard visualization, there is a lot of data to consider. Especially if your dashboard is interactive and allows users to select different types of data, it is important to avoid overcrowding the visualization by choosing a layout that simplifies the clutter. Utilizing white space, grids, drilling down menus and subtle animations can help reduce visual clutter.
h. Choose a Dashboard Layout Wisely
Not only can a good dashboard layout help simplify a data-dense visualization, but choosing the right layout can also help provide a better user experience. Consider the number of data sets you’ll be presenting and think about how they will be organized. Additionally, consider how the dashboard will look on different devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) and ensure it will be easily interpreted no matter the size or orientation.
i. Decide on Effective Refresh Options
If you’re creating an interactive dashboard, you’ll need to decide on refresh options. How often should your dashboard refresh itself and how quickly should users be able to refresh the dashboard to update the information? Choose the refresh options that make sense for the data you’re presenting, as well as for the audience that will be viewing it.
j. Utilize Space and Resources Wisely
When creating an Excel dashboard visualization, it's important to make the most of the resources you have available. This includes both space and resources. Utilize the space wisely, keeping the dashboard organized and clear. As far
6. Don’t Overcomplicate Dashboard Visualizations
When choosing to create an Excel dashboard visualization, it is important to keep things simple. Overcomplicating a visualization can lead to confusion and difficulty in understanding it. Here are some tips that can help create an uncomplicated relationship between the data and the visualization:
Choose the Right Graph Type
It is important to use the right graph type to present the data in a simple and easy way. Line, column and bar graphs are the most commonly used to display data. Pie charts and scatter plots are also useful in certain cases. Chose the graph type that is the best fit for the data.
Present Relevant Data
Excel dashboards should be used to present the most relevant data in the simplest way. Choose which data is most important to convey and use the visualization to present that data. Avoid using unnecessary data which can add to the confusion of the dashboard.
Avoid Using Different Type of Colors
Adding too many different types of colors and patterns can be distracting. It is important to maintain a consistent style to keep the dashboard visualization uncomplicated. Choose one or two accent colors to add interest to the dashboard but keep the majority of the dashboard in a neutral color palette.
Keep Visual Elements to a Minimum
When creating a dashboard visualization, it is important to keep the visual elements to a minimum. Elements of the dashboard such as axis, chart line and labels should be kept to a minimum to avoid overwhelming the user.
Use Space Appropriately
White space is an important visual element of dashboard visualizations. It can be used to separate sections of the dashboard and highlight important data. Too much white space can make the visualization look empty, while too little can lead to overcrowding of the data.
Focus on Clarity
The goal of Excel dashboard visualizations should be to provide the user with clear information. Simplifying the dashboard while still providing useful insights will make the visualization more efficient and easier to understand.
Creating information-rich, useful, and visually appealing Microsoft Excel dashboards is much easier when the right visualization tools are employed. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that you will come up with an Excel dashboard that is both visually pleasing and effective.
Choosing the right visualizations will enhance the usability of your Excel dashboard, improve readability, and make the data easy to interpret. Keep in mind, though, that every project requires unique visualizations, so employ experimentation and use the best tool for the job.
With careful consideration, there’s no limit to the types of insights that can be gleaned from your Excel dashboards. Happy visualizing!