3 Reasons Why People Aren't Using Your Data Visualizations

3 Reasons Why People Aren't Using Your Data Visualizations

Are you getting the expected usage out of your BI dashboards?

Are the users of your dashboards just accessing them to download the raw data only to review it as a messy, siloed, spreadsheet?

If you taught people how to use one of your dashboards, would they have a basic understanding of how to use other ones developed off the same data sets?

If you develop dashboards, train people on how to use them, and then realize that their usage is lower than you expected then it's probably time to take a step back and consider the design quality of your dashboards.

Are your dashboards truly providing insights?

Many dashboards are designed to provide end users access to data and the ability to drill into along one or more dimensions. This has some value, especially with large and wide data sets where processing them in Excel may be cumbersome.

But that won't stop some spreadsheet jockeys that prefer using a tool they understand rather than a tool that you provide them.

The best dashboards answer one or more questions around a topic. This 2019 sporting viz Sunday calendar will help you schedule an event and avoid (or target) weekends where there are major sporting events. Deloitte's fast 500 not only shares the list, but provides convenient ways to understand trends and industries. Both these dashboards help answering questions without the need to download or review the underlying data.

Are you delivering a consistent user experience?

StarCIO Data Driven Workshops
Click along the other dashboards in the Deloitte fast 500 workbook and you'll see that each tab has a focus and answers a specific question. One looks at location, another at industries, and a third on time. I don't need a lot of handholding to use these dashboards, because their names and short descriptions are sufficient.

What's more important is that their is consistency between dashboards.

The left rail has a consistent structure. The body of the dashboard focuses on answering a single question. Colors and fonts are applied consistently.

Can you imagine what these dashboards would look like if they were inconsistent?

Yet that's what happens when multiple people in an organization work on dashboards independently without a documented style guide. Left to their own accords, they implement what they think is best or what they know how to do easily. The result, over time, is a portfolio of dashboards that have inconsistent user experiences making it more challenging for people to consume them.

Are your dashboards too slow?

End users have less patience for slow dashboards than their designers. You might be willing to wait ten seconds for your dashboard to load and five seconds for every drill down click, but maybe not your users.

More complex dashboards on larger data sets are more likely to have performance issues. Also, if you developed your dashboard on a growing data set, it's performance will degrade over time as the data set grows.

Dashboard developers should recognize that testing for performance is a second and necessary step to be done before publishing dashboards. Great looking and useful dashboards that are too slow will be underutilized.

Getting more people to happily use your dashboards

Now that you know a few things that can stymie dashboard utilization, I'll be sharing some insights on how to increase usage.

It starts by measuring usage and visiting end users. Look for underperformance in the usage data, then visit the targeted end users and learn why!

More in future posts!

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