Designing for different audiences


Designing a dashboard for multiple target audiences can be challenging. The information provided should be actionable, informative, and presented in a visually appealing way.

While some users may need detailed information presented in different dimensions with possibilities to filter and drill through, others may only look for key numbers. While some users like to click through a dashboard to see specific information, others want to print it or glance at the phone to see the most relevant information.

Also, not everyone processes information the same way. Some users may want to follow a storyline where they are guided through a dashboard with lots of visuals and little detailed information. Others need to view data from different angles in a comprehensive and structured way.

Power BI Dashboard Infographic Scuba Diving Analysis
Dashboard (left) vs Infographic (right) - both created in Power BI - serve both a different target audience.

Think outside the box

When you face an audience with different needs in viewing data, you should try to prevent answering all these needs in the same dashboard. Trying to cramp all the information in one dashboard rarely leads to an enhanced user experience. Quite the contrary, it will frustrate most users and lead to less/no usage because no one can find the information essential for them.

Approaching the issue another way, you can also provide different dashboards (or pages) for your audiences. Looking at the example at the top, you could use the left dashboard for someone that wants to drill through the data and use some filters. At the same time, the infographic (dashboard) on the right can easily be printed or put on a website. The user using the infographic mostly does not need more detailed information.

But how do you know who is your audience and what they want? Talk with them and ask questions! 

  • How do they use the dashboard?
  • Which information do they need?
  • How tech-savvy are they?

Consider this when thinking about your target audience​

Is your audience familiar with data and dashboards?

Not everyone works on a daily base with data and Power BI dashboards. Functions that seem easy and no-brainers (drill through, filter, bookmarks) are quite challenging for someone that only looks at something once a month.

Make sure to understand what these people are looking for and design accordingly.

  • Not everyone needs to see all the data. For example, infographics are handy for users who quickly glance at the data. Think about an employee who opens the dashboard on the phone in between meetings and only wants to know the key numbers.
  • Dashboards are handy for people who spend more time on/with the data. They maybe also want to perform additional analysis or use filters to see data from different perspectives. These users want to know the data and interact with it. An infographic would be too simplistic for them.
Power BI Scuba Diving Dashboard Infographic Designing for different audiences
Use an infographic instead of a dashboard when your audience does not need all the details.

How much time does the user want to spend with the dashboard?

People working with data Power BI  sometimes forget that not everyone is as experienced in working with data and interpreting the results.

  • Does the audience want a fast glance at the most meaningful data and then base their actions or decisions on that number? Design a dashboard providing this information. Do not get lost in the details.
  • Is your target audience detail-oriented, and are they spending many hours analyzing the data? Do not use vague visuals that leave them guessing the numbers.

Do you have people in your audience that need both versions of a dashboard? Think about creating two pages in Power BI. The first page shows an overview; the second page provides in-depth information.

Power BI Dashboard Scuba Diving Analysis designing for different audiences
Use a dashboard when your audience wants to dig into the data.

What does the target audience really need?

Many people try to cram all available information into a dashboard, fearing that the data “could be important later.” However, this can make the dashboard cluttered and unfocused. Just because the data could be used at some point doesn’t mean it should be used in the dashboard right now. If it doesn’t add value for your audience, don’t show it.

By putting the end user at the heart of the design process, you can create better dashboards that are easy to use and understand.

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