Your dashboard’s design elements should be understandable at a glance, look visually appealing, and fit within the bounds of a mobile device’s screen. Making everything work together can feel challenging, but it’s much easier when you have help. Here’s how you can elevate your dashboard with mobile design tips.
1. Understand Your Objectives
Before creating your dashboard’s mobile design, you need to determine your objectives. The purpose of data aggregation and visualization determines the dashboard’s overall appearance. First, you must decide if yours is operational or analytical.
An operational dashboard focuses on quickly delivering as much relevant information as possible. For example, if you were displaying information on stocks or traffic, you’d want the UI to be simple and easy to understand because the situations are time-sensitive.
On the other hand, an analytical dashboard provides an overview of the most critical information available. This kind includes things like marketing trends or key performance indicators. The data you display and its purpose will determine which type you should use. Consider who your audience will be and how they need to be able to view it.
2. Prioritize Your Data
A mobile user should be able to view everything important right when they open the dashboard. Since you likely can’t fit everything on the first screen, you must choose only relevant information and prioritize your findings. Everything should have a clear purpose and connect to your objective.
For example, if you were designing your dashboard to display audience statistics, it would be more important to include demographic data over the number of premium subscriptions they’ve bought. Even if the information seems important to you, it might not be relevant to the dashboard or your audience’s objectives.
Consider what’s most important to your users, then incorporate it. Your aim shouldn’t be just to include the most critical data right away since everything should connect. Think about how everything relates to each other before you settle on something.
3. Choose Relevant Visuals
There are dozens of kinds of tables, charts, and graphs, so you need to determine which fits best in a dashboard with a mobile design. For example, while a pie chart and bar graph could both display demographic data, the first option is the clear choice. On top of being more visually appealing, it’s much easier to read.
However, you’re not bound to charts and graphs. Although they are a great way to deliver information, sometimes simplicity is key. For instance, if you had a statistic as simple as new users, you could just display the number on its own.
You can get as creative as you want as long as your objective and design elements remain clear. That being said, it’s best to stick to the classic mobile design rules. Keep things simple, flat, and easily translatable. Users should be able to instantly recognize what your graphics mean and how to read them.
4. Determine the Layout
When making a dashboard with a mobile design focus, the right layout is critical. It’s one of the most essential parts because it determines many other visual decisions. Even after determining which data you’ll prioritize, you must still choose how to display everything.
Most people block each statistic into separate spaces to make things easier to navigate and read. While you could technically put anything anywhere, your dashboard will be much more effective if it is cohesive. Users should be able to see the relationship between data points at a glance.
The size and spacing of each design element affect how users view and interpret the data. Since visual hierarchy simplifies navigation and information absorption, it’s crucial to consider it when constructing your dashboard’s layout. The best approach is to draw up multiple layouts to compare which ones work best.
5. Figure out Your Design
The color, contrast, and saturation of your dashboard in a mobile design can make or break it. Unappealing visuals can throw users off, even if you have a solid layout and easy-to-understand statistics. Try to make your design elements look simple and appealing.
The regular graphic design rules bend at this point since you’re dealing with data visualization. While a purple monochromatic chart may look great, it makes the information more confusing to the user. You have to use unique colors that contrast well so they can immediately see the distinction between data points.
Design elements and graphs should be consistent with one another. If everything looks visually connected, the user understands the UI better and can adapt faster. For example, if you expand a chart when they tap on it, they’ll expect other things to behave the same way. It’s important to understand their expectation and design your dashboard accordingly.
6. Incorporate White Space
Although it’s good to show the user as much relevant information as possible when they first open the dashboard, filling all of the available room clutters it. Even if you have white space between each design element, the charts and graphs can get confusing to interpret if they don’t have enough.
Make sure you include plenty of empty space throughout your dashboard. Finding the best balance on mobile can be challenging when you have so much information to display, but it’s necessary. Even if you can’t fit everything where you want it, the user won’t mind scrolling down to see the rest.
7. Include Supporting Design Elements
Tooltips display relevant information to help users. If you include them in your dashboard’s mobile design, they can elevate it. The ability to have hidden clarifying details is vital when you’re working with limited space. Since they only appear when a user interacts with something directly, they’re a fantastic workaround to clutter and blocking.
Although dashboards are for showing the maximum amount of relevant information as quickly as possible, some users might want to immerse themselves more. For this reason, it’s a good idea to include tooltips to give them the option.
Additionally, it’s wise to include small, subtle graphics to help the user understand the visuals better. While a bar graph counting new customers normally takes a second to interpret, a small arrow representing gains or losses makes it understandable at a glance. Feel free to experiment with icons, animations, and graphics until you find something useful.
8. Implement Tactile Feedback
As of 2021, over 63% of people use their mobile devices to go online. Most have grown to expect standard features like tactile feedback, meaning you should implement it in your mobile design. You can integrate it with tooltips for a more engaging experience.
Even if you don’t want to create custom visuals or animations, you can still slightly darken what they engage with or vibrate their device. If they know the dashboard recognizes their input, they’ll feel much more involved. This feature aims to make the user feel like their interactions matter and they’re being heard.
No matter what approach you take, every button or interactable design element should be large enough so the user can read it properly. Additionally, their placement should reflect how mobile focuses on actions like swiping and tapping.
Enhance Your Dashboard Design
A dashboard has to simplify complex information to be easily understandable by everyone. It’s a big ask, but it gets much easier once you know the right tips and tricks. People will appreciate additions like tooltips or tactile feedback since they improve the user experience.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.