Whether you're a new spreadsheet user keen to learn the best ways to create meaningful and attractive dashboards, or a seasoned pro looking to brush up on the most recent design techniques and tools, this blog post will help you get started with Microsoft Excel dashboard design and development.

First, we'll start by discussing the purpose of Excel dashboards and what they are designed to achieve. We'll then review the fundamentals of dashboard design and development, exploring the various components and features available within Excel. Finally, we'll take a look at some tips and tricks for creating stunning, professional-looking dashboards with Excel.

What is an Excel Dashboard?

An Excel Dashboard is a powerful analytical tool used to quickly and efficiently measure, analyze, and present data. It can display different metrics and information in an organized, easy-to-understand manner for users to interact with. This can help provide quick insight into business performance, identify areas for improvement, and support complex decision making.

Definition of an Excel Dashboard

An Excel Dashboard is a one-page or multi-page graphical summary of data or performance indicators of an organization, project or activity. It uses diagrams, charts, tables, and other visualization methods to present an overview of the data in an easily understandable manner. Typically, an Excel Dashboard is used by professionals and business users to monitor, analyze and communicate patterns, trends and performance.

Common Features of an Excel Dashboard

The most common features of an Excel Dashboard include:

  • Display of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales, profit, cost, performance, and other metrics.
  • Ability to present data through diagrams, charts, tables
  • Ability to filter data for granular analysis
  • Dynamic interactivity through connecting data from multiple sources
  • Support for complex conditional formatting
  • drill-down reports for deeper analysis

Preparation for Design and Development

Before you can create an Excel dashboard, you will need to have a good understanding of the data that is available, the desired information that needs to be displayed, and a plan for the layout and navigation of the dashboard. By taking the time to plan and prepare, you can create a successful dashboard that meets your goals.

Gather Relevant Data

The first step in preparing for Excel dashboard design and development is to gather relevant data. This self-explanatory task will help you see what information is available, who has access to it, and how it can be used to create effective visualizations. Additionally, you may need to collect and clean data from multiple sources. All of this data should be decomposed, connected, and transformed so that it can be effectively used in an Excel dashboard.

Identify What Information to Display

Once you have accumulated the relevant data, the next step is to identify what information will be displayed in the dashboard. This is typically done by creating a “data matrix” that summarizes the available information and how it will be used in the dashboard. This matrix will help you to decide what information should be displayed, how it will be formatted and presented, and what type of visualizations should be used.

The preparation phase of designing and developing an Excel dashboard is crucial to the success of the project. By taking the time to plan and understand the data, you can ensure the dashboard you create is visually appealing, intuitive, and easy to navigate.

Design and Development Process

Designing an Excel dashboard requires a thoughtful, organized process to ensure that the final product is both effective and efficient. To get started, consider the following steps:

Establish a Design Format and Layout Based on Purpose

Before delving into the design of the dashboard, it is important to understand the purpose it will serve. What data does the user need to access and what questions are they trying to answer? From there, work out the format and layout that best represents that purpose. Decide which elements (widgets, text blocks, graphs, etc.) need to be included and how they should be organized. Taking the time to plan out this step will pay off in the development and preparation of the dashboard.

Use Conditional Formatting to Present Data Visually

Conditional formatting helps to create a visual representation of data. This can improve the dashboard’s overall look and feel, while also enabling the user to identify patterns and trends that may not stand out in a hastily constructed spreadsheet. Examples of this technique include color coding based on cell values, shading adjacent columns based on results, and highlighting text based on criteria.

Create User-Friendly Interactivity (e.g. Drop-Down Menus)

User interactivity should also be taken into consideration when designing an Excel dashboard. Adding drop-down menus, sliders, and checkboxes can help to make the data more manageable and easier to explore. This type of interactivity also makes the dashboard more user-friendly, as it encourages navigation and exploration of the data.

Create and Style Charts to Give Users a Clear Understanding

Finally, charts are vital elements of Excel dashboards as they provide a visual way of interpreting data. Utilizing a variety of chart types, including bar charts, pie charts, scatter plots, and line graphs, can help to distill data into digestible chunks. Styling charts with a consistent color palette and formatting helps to solidify the dashboard's look as well as make it easier to read. Additionally, completing charts with labels, titles, and legends can lead to greater comprehension.

Dashboard Maintenance

Creating a successful Excel Dashboard requires diligence and finesse to ensure that the data being presented is accurate and up to date. Having a plan in place for routinely monitoring and maintaining the dashboard, as well as for obtaining and responding to feedback, is essential for keeping the tool useful and effective over the long term.

Develop Ongoing Processes to Monitor, Maintain and Update the Dashboard

Having processes in place to monitor the dashboard's accuracy and keep it up to date are essential for ensuring that it is providing users with useful information. Depending on the type of dashboard and its associated data, it may be necessary to perform routine checks on the data sources to make sure that the information is accurate and up to date. It may also be necessary to update the dashboard as changes are made to data sources or software.

Regularly reviewing the dashboard's performance, such as its usability and user experience, is also important. User feedback should be collected and factored into any changes to the dashboard in order to ensure the best experience for users.

Report Usage, Accuracy, and Any Insights Obtained from the Dashboard

Another key step for dashboard maintenance is to track its usage and performance over time. Keeping a report on how the dashboard is being used, which insights are being taken from it, and how accurate it is being found to be will help inform any necessary changes or improvements.

Analyzing logs can also provide useful insights into how the dashboard is being used. This information can be used to adjust its design or the data being presented.

Benefits of Having an Excel Dashboard

Having a comprehensive dashboard for tracking, analyzing and comprehending data is essential for running a successful business. Excel dashboard design is an efficient way to consolidate and visualize data, and provide actionable insights. Creating an Excel dashboard can help streamline processes and improve decision-making.

Improved Decision-Making

Having a dashboard in place helps ensure visibility and access to all project data. This information can be easily monitored to show progress and track results. With the help of data visualizations such as graphs and charts, complex data can be easily understood at a glance. This helps to quickly identify any patterns and provide insights for informed decision-making.

Increased Data Reliability and Accuracy

Using raw data for decision-making can be difficult to navigate and de-code. Integrating the data into a dashboard allows for the concentration of essential data points into a streamlined view, making it easier to identify potential issues and opportunities. Dashboards also provide better accuracy and consistency of data, by collecting and using only the pertinent information that provides true value to the organization.

Increase in Efficiency and Productivity

Having an Excel dashboard in place reduces the amount of time it takes to make decisions and monitor projects. Dashboards also enable quick report generation, making it easy to access project insights. This eliminates the need to manually filter data and can save a significant amount of time. Dashboards also offer greater flexibility, allowing users to modify or add data, or change the view or display see how the change can affect the business. This helps increase overall efficiency and productivity.


In this blog post, we have discussed the essential elements of Excel Dashboard Design and Development. We have explored the objectives of Excel Dashboard Design as well as discussed the various types of design approaches. In addition, we have also looked into various Excel functions and techniques that can be helpful in developing sophisticatedly designed Excel Dashboards.

Summary of What Was Covered

The main points of this blog post included:

  • Objectives of Excel Dashboard Design
  • Types of Excel Dashboard Design Approaches
  • Useful Tips for Developing Excel Dashboards

Benefits of Excel Dashboard Design and Development

Creating and customizing Excel dashboards offers many advantages to an organization. Excel dashboards provide easy-to-understand insights into the organization's current performance. With properly designed and developed dashboards, the organization can make well-informed decisions, identify potential problems in advance, measure progress and performance, and save time and resources.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, Excel dashboard design and development is a powerful tool which, when done correctly and efficiently, can help businesses make better decisions and increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.

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