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How To Make Stunning Dashboards & Take Your Decisions To The Next Level

how to create a logistics dashboard

If you want to convey crucial information to decision-makers in the easiest and most effective way possible, you need to embrace the power of interactive dashboards and learn how to create a dashboard.

A business dashboard offers at-a-glance insights based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and is an intuitive and visually pleasing way to consume data. Unlike early predecessors, they give presenters the ability to engage audiences with real-time data. They also offer a more dynamic approach to presenting data compared to the rigid, linear nature of Powerpoint or the numbers-without-a-story approach of Excel. At datapine, we believe the goal of each interactive dashboard you create should be better, faster, and stronger decision making while telling a story.

In other words: how to tell the best possible story and how to create a dashboard to support your narrative?

Here, we’re going to discuss how to create a dashboard that speaks to your target audience while exploring some inspiring dashboard creation examples. We’ll even cover the dos and don’ts of creating a dashboard.

Without further ado, let’s get going.

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How To Create A Dashboard - 10 Best Practices

The dashboard creation process will only prove effective if everything you do is geared towards connecting with your audience.

When you tell a story, you must consider the audience and adapt your narrative accordingly. The same applies to creating a dashboard, which means that before you do anything else, you should outline the needs of your users.

So, before you start, you should consider:

  • What decisions the end-user will make based on the data.
  • How familiar they are with the data or KPIs.
  • How much context they already have.

For instance, a live dashboard for your stakeholders who want a monthly report is bound to look different from an in-depth sales performance dashboard that your sales team needs to access on the fly. And if you’re looking to make a dashboard to outline return on marketing investment (ROMI), your visualizations, design, and metrics would be very different from those featured in a marketing channel engagement report.

Now we will focus on 10 essential tips and best practices to follow when creating dashboards, starting with defining your audience.

1. Define Your Dashboard Audience And Objective

Sit down and take some time to complete answers to the following 6 questions. Trust us – any energy that you invest up-front in your creation process will be richly rewarded later on. Whoever will use it will greatly appreciate the time and effort you put in to make it relevant to their lives and focused on the essentials. Even if you’re just creating this dashboard for your own use, answering the following questions will give you the foundation you need to make it truly valuable.

a) Who are you trying to help?

Remember that the ultimate, meta goal is to make your life or the life of someone in your organization easier. With that in mind, it’s wise to base all of your decisions on your audience so that you can truly know how to create a dashboard that is useful for them.

So – who is the person, or group of people that will be actively using it? If it’s yourself (and only you), then you can skip the rest of this step. However, if more people than just yourself are going to use it, write down their roles in the company now.  Ideally, write down a specific person that you personally know so that you can picture them in your mind as you go through the rest of this process. Don’t go any further in the creation process until you have written down the person (either in name, job title, or both) who you will be helping with your dashboard.

b) What do they do on a daily basis?

Another way to think of this question is: what are the daily tasks that this person performs that are essential to their job?

This is a more concrete way of defining someone’s role within your organization. You want to be super specific here – the daily life of a sales agent who has to get all of their own leads is quite different from the daily work of a sales agent who has all of their leads supplied to them. And the daily life of the sales manager who is in charge of all the sales agents is more different still. These differences in daily tasks will result in different goals and KPIs.

Don’t go any further in the creation process until you have written down at least 2-3 (if not more) of the daily tasks that the users absolutely must do in order to fulfill their role.

c) What goals are they trying to reach?

Do they care about making more sales and getting new leads? Do they care about helping their staff get more sales and leads? Are they hoping to manage customer support calls more effectively? Do they want to get more social reach on the blog posts your company is putting out?

These are just a small set of the many, many goals that a dashboard can help your team reach. If it is intended more for a C-suite or shareholder audience, they might have goals like:

  • Being able to look at the company’s cash flow situation at a glance.
  • Examining how the company’s revenue numbers are doing this quarter compared to last year’s quarter.
  • Looking at total digital advertising spent and the revenue.

Don’t go any further in the creation process until you have defined 1-3 goals that your user really cares about. Obviously, you can’t peer into their head – just make your best guess. Or, if you want to upgrade your approach a bit, reach out to the person whom you are creating the dashboard for and ask them what their goals are.

d) What KPIs, if measured, will help them reach their goals?

Now that you know your user’s role, their daily essential tasks, and their goals, we can look at some KPIs that will help them. This step can be much easier if you simply ask your user, or if you have intimate knowledge of their job. If you don’t, you run the risk of creating a dashboard that nobody actually uses, wasting your time. If you don’t have the ability (or desire) to ask your end-user what KPIs are valuable to them, our KPI examples and templates will give you a pretty good idea of what metrics you can use.

e) How are they currently viewing these KPIs?

Now, the final question: how is your user viewing his KPIs right now, and what are the pain points associated with that way of seeing them?

Maybe they are using an Excel doc, and it’s getting way too big and unwieldy. Maybe they are using their CRM software but it’s not really designed for that purpose. Whatever the case, you want to know this – because if you don’t know how to make a dashboard that is better than their existing KPI measurement method, you’ll have wasted your time. Ideally, you create a dashboard that is easier to use and more focused (less cluttered) than their current approach. In the rest of this post, you’ll learn how to do just that.

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f) How can I use storytelling to put my KPIs into context?

When it comes to creating dashboards that not only speak to your audience but also help to develop your business in a number of vital areas, telling a compelling story (or giving your user the tools to tell others a compelling story) with your data is essential. Yes, to get results, storytelling should become a primary focus.

With better access to data than ever before, and improved data mining tools, we’re able to recover A LOT of types of data. However, even though we love data, we can’t (and shouldn’t) display all of these types.

The goal should be to avoid drowning the user in a data tsunami while providing the best information available to aid in getting the actionable insights they need. And, your KPIs will help you develop a narrative with your insights - one that helps to improve the decision-making process while streamlining the business.

If you have the capability, consider building an interactive KPI dashboard, using your KPIs to guide your storytelling design efforts. In doing so, you’ll empower your audience to explore the data for themselves, through filtering or other controls, can add value by providing deeper context.

Interactive visualizations are especially relevant when you have a broad target audience. Newcomers to the topic can still spot trends and learn the basics, while experts in the field can drill down deeper into the data for more insight.

2. Make Sure Your Data Is Clean And Correct

After you have identified your audience and objectives, it is time to take a closer look at your data itself. This step is important as it's the backbone for building a dashboard that will not only tell a story but ensure that the story is correct and has proper building blocks in place. You need to identify where you will get the right data to reach the goals that you already defined (see our point no. 1). There are countless data sources that you need to consider but they all depend on which business scenario are you working on.

Additionally, you might want to consider also sources from outside your department because they all have the potential to provide you with invaluable insights. In practice, that means that sales and marketing work together so you would need to connect the data from both departments, whether it's Salesforce, Google Analytics, or Facebook. To help you in the process, you can read our extensive guide on data analysis questions.

Another critical point to consider alongside the source of your data is the proper data quality management (DQM) strategy. Your data should be clean, accurate, consistent, complete, and compliant with your company's procedures. You should also think about how to automate this process as much as possible so that you don't waste additional time. If you don't take into account DQM, your data will be of low quality, your analysis and dashboards will follow.

3. Select The Right Chart Type For Your Data

How to build a dashboard that has the right data visualization types for your KPIs? This question is another essential one that cannot be avoided. Hereafter you can read a quick recap of the most common types of charts used, and when to use each one:

Bar Charts – Perhaps the most common misconception about charts is that more is better. Bar Charts are a simple and effective way to look at cohort analyses, comparisons, and trends.

Pie Charts – These charts are often the subject of controversy. Data visualization guru Edward Tufte writes, “pie charts are bad and that the only thing worse than one pie chart is lots of them.” No matter how you feel about pie charts, the only time you should use them is when you need a graph representing proportions of a whole, when the total of your numbers is 100%. Use sparingly.

Line Charts – A Line Chart is an effective graph formed from a series of data points connected by the eponymous line. They are often used to show developments over time and identify trends.

Tables – Tables are great for detailed information with different units of measure, which may be difficult to represent easily in a graph or chart.

Gauges – This type of graphic typically displays one or more values using indicators and appropriate metrics. They are often used to highlight a specific KPI that needs attention.

Area Charts – Area charts are awesome for multiple data series with part to whole relationships, or for individual series representing a physically countable set.

For a more detailed look at chart types and to understand which are the most appropriate for what you are trying to convey, you can check out this chart suggestion guide:

Overview to use the right chart types for comparisons, compositions, relationships and distributions.

**click to enlarge**

If we want to look at chart types in action, let’s go over how to make a dashboard that includes a chart that looks at the number of transactions per hour and see what works and what doesn't.

When using a bar chart, the data is presented in comparable groups which makes more sense to the human eye, and the use of only one color doesn’t distract from the data:

How To Make A Dashboard good bar chart example

Now let’s take a look at the same transactions per hour through the lens of a pie chart. With this chart, we are unable to glean any useful insights. Not only are there too many values in the dimension, but these numbers do not make up parts of a whole:

How to Create a Dashboard bad pie chart example

We can see in these examples above how choosing the right chart can make a huge difference in presenting data, therefore, you should keep this in mind all the time.

4. Don’t Forget About Color Theory

We could write books on color theory, but luckily, that has already been done. For a great resource for which colors work together best, and which emotions they convey, check out this comprehensive guide on color for designers.

One thing to take into consideration when selecting your colors is that roughly 8% of men and 0.5% of women are colorblind. The vast majority of people who fall into this category are what is called color impaired. This means that they can perceive a color, but cannot distinguish different shades of that color.

Colorblind readers can perceive changes in brightness, for the most part, just like you can. For example, you can switch from a dark brown to a bright green, just not from a dark brown to dark green.

Avoid overlapping shades of colors that have similar brightness values. For an example of what not to do, take a look at the example below: the reds and pinks totally clash, making it not only ugly, but unusable for color-blind readers:

How to Create a Dashboard Example With Bad Color

You have to be careful when choosing the best colors for your dashboard, but the rule of thumb is to select 2, maximum 3, and stick to them across the board.

5. Build a Balanced Perspective

When we say “build a balanced perspective,” what we mean is: when you create a dashboard, you should present a mix of past, predictive, and real-time data to communicate your message.

By now, you have a solid understanding of how to pick the best visualizations for your dashboard and how to approach selecting the best KPIs to tell your story. To bring everything together and create a panoramic view with your dashboard, you should present critical data that offers a clear-cut snapshot of past trends, insights that offer a projection of future outcomes, and real-time data that shows what’s happening at the moment.

Having a balanced mix of data-driven insights will significantly improve your decision-making in a host of key areas, empowering your users to develop key initiatives that will drive the business forward while helping you to get ahead of the competition.

Adding filters and functionality to your dashboard will make it easy for your users to analyze, arrange, and view your balanced mix of data while maintaining the integrity of the design. The right data dashboard software will also allow you to make these types of customization without any technical knowledge.

6. Use Predefined Templates

Since we cover customization in our other points, here we will focus on utilizing predefined dashboard templates. If you use a professional online dashboard software like datapine, there are some perks you can look for when building dashboards, and templates are one of them.

Templates are designed to help users quickly use predefined styles, layouts, and charts. For example, in datapine, you can simply select the desired template, and the software will generate a visual on its own. If you want to know the quickest and best way to build a company dashboard, predefined templates might be worth investigating, especially if you don't have time to create one from scratch or you don't want to design anything on your own.

Templates are a great way to not only save time but inspire you to adjust the existing layout and implement your company's touch. When using such online data visualization tools, you will have the possibility to create stunning dashboards and have your data all in one place.

7. Take Advantage Of Interactivity

If you want to know how to make a data dashboard even more advanced, you might want to consider interactivity. These features will help you not only to drill deep into your data but do so in seconds, each time important business questions arise.

Interactive dashboards are critical in your dashboard creation process since they provide you with invaluable possibilities to manipulate your data as you go. From powerful drilldowns to chart zooms and widgets, these features will enable you to interact with each set of information that is visualized while you keep complete control over your dashboard.

Advanced dashboard software has built-in interactive features that will help you in leaving spreadsheets behind while building a powerful dashboard that is not crowded with information but, on the contrary, provides clean and sharp visuals that can be analyzed on a deeper level.

The goal of interactivity is to build dashboards that will help you simplify analytical processes and make them more user-friendly while, at the same time, provide answers to questions immediately. If your dashboard is interactive, you have much more possibilities to keep your data simple yet powerful, therefore, this point is critical to consider if you want to build the best possible dashboard. To help you more, you can check out this video and check the topic in more detail:

8. Ensure Your Dashboard Is Mobile-Optimized

We live in a hyper-connected digital age where we have access to information 24/7. Mobile technology means that we’re free to connect, campaign, analyze, and produce wherever we may be in the world. If you create dashboard designs that aren’t optimized across devices, you’re not using them to their fullest potential.

When you create dashboard designs, you must remember to optimize the end results for mobile devices. Mobile dashboard design greatly differentiates from a bigger screen such as a desktop or TV dashboard as you have much smaller space and different screen dimensions, but professional dashboard tools will help you to adjust your desktop designs quickly and seamlessly.

Fortunately, in our tech-driven times, any professional dashboard creator will allow you to scale your dashboards to mobile screens—and tweak the functionality accordingly—with ease, in comparison to Excel or PowerPoint where you don't have that option.

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well." - Brian Reed, front-end developer, and musician

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9. Follow These Essential Design Basics

Next, we’ll look at how to make dashboard design work for you. Digital dashboards are only effective if you get the design just right. Let’s examine the practices that will cement your success time after time.

When understanding how to make a dashboard, it is critical to strategically place the charts. The goal is to arrange the data in a manner that fits the way it’s used. The most important data including the takeaways and main KPIs should be prominently displayed at the top. Data that needs to be compared must be arranged with that comparison in mind.

A good example is where the KPIs are prominently displayed at the top of the page, followed by the supporting data. Your eye automatically travels to the most important information. Below you see a really basic dashboard just to demonstrate it:

Dashboard Example with Good Positioning

**click to enlarge**

Now, let’s look at a bad example. This one below starts with a table of data, and the most important numbers are hidden at the very bottom. The KPIs aren’t presented in a way that shows a logical flow:

dashboard example with bad positioning

**click to enlarge**

This information on design is just scratching the surface, however. If you want to dive deeper, be sure to check out our post on dashboard design principles.

Now, to ensure you create dashboard designs that work for you, let’s summarize with some general rules of thumb of what to do and avoid when considering how to create dashboards:


  • DO build dashboards that focus on the needs of your audience.
  • DO keep your dashboards as simple, clean, and minimalist as you can while also including all of the most important KPIs necessary.
  • DO make sure that your final dashboard is better than your audience’s previous method of viewing their KPIs.
  • DO tell a story, as stories are easily understood by the human mind.


  • DON’T clutter your dashboard with too much data. This is the number one rule to follow! Too much data = too hard to use = waste of time.
  • DON’T use colors that are very similar in brightness to your main colors – color blind people won’t be able to use your dashboard.
  • DON’T make a “one size fits all” dashboard. Make it with specific people and needs in mind.
  • DON’T use pie charts except in cases where you are showing parts of a whole.

These are just some general rules of thumb – for more information on the best practices you should use, make sure to check out our post on BI dashboard best practices.

10. Ask For Feedback And Repeat

The final step in your process is also critical since you need to know whether the dashboard is well received or there are some additional points that you need to rework. Asking for feedback is essential if you want to positively develop your work and upscale the dashboard even more.

Some ideas might include that you simply watch how the users interact with the dashboard and explore the data on their own. That way, you will have a chance to immediately identify points that users find confusing or hard to understand. You can also ask the user to think out loud so that you know how they interact with the dashboard and possibly help them to become faster if needed. If you have a larger base of users, you don't have to meet with each, separately. It would make sense to communicate with representatives of the team and afterward, you can check-in with the entire team, possibly midway through the project.

At this point, communication and cooperation with the team are critical. You might also keep in mind that is ok to push back for unrealistic requests, especially if they don't correspond with the objectives of the dashboard if the team has simply forgotten about them. It happens, and luckily, you are there to remind them about the end-goal of the dashboard.

Now that you know how to create a digital dashboard, it's time to take a look at real examples that are built respecting these 10 best practices.

How To Create Dashboard Designs That Get Results - See Examples From Various Industries

Now that we’ve explored the essential elements of dazzling data dashboards (and examined our NFL project), let’s consider how to make a dashboard by looking at 7 real-world examples.

These data-driven examples will provide additional context while demonstrating the importance of customizing your efforts to your audiences’ or users’ needs when considering to build a dashboard that gets results.

1. Logistics Industry

When looking at this logistics analytics dashboard, two KPIs immediately stand out: average loading time and average loading weight:

how to create a logistics dashboard

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

While there is plenty of other information, it avoids too much clutter by using large images and by not cramming a bunch of stats on the page. Revenue, cost, and profit numbers are easily seen due to their upper left corner positioning and their large size, along with green and red numbers to show trends. The fleet status and delivery status metrics are very easily seen as well. Finally, there is more detailed information available in the “profit by country”, “deliveries by country”, and “average delivery time (hours and route)”. This is a great example of a well-executed dashboard with all relevant logistics KPIs, but our next one is even better.

2. Procurement Example

Procurement is an important function in many companies, and this dashboard shows the quality of procurement processes in order to decrease costs and save time.

A procurement dashboard created with steps we talk about in the article.

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

In this procurement dashboard, we can see a clear flow of metrics focused on quality, an essential part of procurement departments across the globe. The goal of such a dashboard is to improve relationships with suppliers, generate better contracts, and establish a data-driven environment.

On the left side, we can see clear stats about the quality KPIs compared to the previous month. The green and red color clearly show if there was a negative or positive growth that will, ultimately, affect your bottom line. On the right side, there are sections dedicated to the return cost analysis, supplier quality rating, and project analysis. These sections tell a more detailed story about the performance of suppliers and spend under management. To be able to make better decisions in the future, such procurement analysis is critical for evaluating which supplier has more positive results and what can you do to negotiate future contracts.

3. Human Resources Department

One of the most critical departments of a company, human resources has developed into a data-driven function that needs to look at numbers as much as people. That's why a modern HR dashboard helps professionals to look at different data touchpoints, ensure great candidate experience, and positive professional development.

Human resources dashboard example focused on talent management.

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

This dashboard has talent metrics as its focal point, expressed for the first quarter of the year. A clear overview of metrics such as the number of employees, monthly salary, and vacancies are clearly expressed on the top left part while hiring stats, turnover rate, and fired talents right below. These visuals can tell you which departments have the highest turnover and HR professionals can dig deeper into reasons and future improvements of their HR analytics processes.

The right part has 2 main areas: the talent satisfaction expressed as NPS, and talent rating. These metrics help to assess a company's atmosphere and give a base for HR professionals to investigate and brainstorm on how to increase satisfaction but also understand the quality of employees and potential improvements.

If you want to dig deeper into the recruiting process, we suggest you read our guide on recruitment metrics.

4. Media Dashboard Example

This digital media dashboard is clean and well designed. It’s clearly optimized to show three of the most important metrics for the web traffic of a media company:

  • Unique visitors
  • The top viewed articles by visitors
  • Total email subscribers

Media dashboard example made by datapine

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

In terms of white space, clean layout, and providing useful data without overwhelming the user, this is one you want to learn from. A simple white background and the most important charts emphasized with stronger colors, and with clearly expressed metrics that tell a digital media data-story. With such a dashboard, everyone in the team has access to clear and real-time information, leaving spreadsheets behind, and automating the reporting processes.

5. Financial Dashboard Creation

If you’re mulling over how to create dashboard designs to represent your business’s core financial activities, our financial dashboard is an excellent example.

For any organization, regardless of sector or industry, that needs a stable snapshot of its ongoing financial health, this particular dashboard makes a powerful tool. Operating with financial KPIs such as working capital, quick ratio, and budget variation, this dynamic tool is a masterclass in how to build a dashboard for your finance department.

How to make a financial dashboard

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

In our example above, you can gain quick access to insights that will help you streamline your financial processes and ultimately boost your bottom line. As you can see, color-coded bar charts offer a swift snapshot of your cash conversion cycle while tables and line charts offer the perfect balance of trends, data, and insights that encourage improved decision-making as well as improved business intelligence.

You can see more tips and tricks for building a financially healthy environment also in our financial graphs article.

6. Marketing CMO Example

The next example in our ‘how to make a dashboard’ guide comes in the form of our CMO template. In today’s increasingly competitive digital age, marketing intelligence has never been more critical. If you’re a CMO, you’re likely to come under enormous pressure to push your business’s promotional efforts forward.

A CEO dashboard example showcasing high-level marketing KPIs such as cost per lead, MQL, SQL, and cost per customer.

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

Our dedicated marketing dashboard above features a balanced mix of KPIs that will help you make your campaigns more efficient while boosting your marketing return on investment (ROI) exponentially.

Here, you can drill down into insights such as your average cost per lead, sales performance trends based on your targets, traffic, MQL & SQL ratios, and more.

The digestible design of our CMO dashboard means that extracting marketing KPIs and key insights at a glance is more than feasible. Plus, the series of focused line charts on the right side of the page coupled with the clear-cut numeric information to the left means that comparing metrics, spotting trends, and communicating figures with your team will take minimal time. It will also prove to be a stress-free experience.

7. Retail Sales & Order

The rise of eCommerce has opened up the realm of retail to a world of possibilities, empowering brands to sell their products to prospects across channels and touchpoints. But more opportunity means more data to handle.

For retailers of all shapes and sizes, our retail dashboard is designed to improve internal processes while maximizing sales on a sustainable basis:

sales and order retail dashboard depicting perfect order rate, total orders, and return reasons, among others.

**click to open the dashboard in full-screen mode**

Retail is an incredibly fast-paced sector, and if you want to know how to create a dashboard that gets results, this template is the answer. Here, you can break down your retail analytics according to different regions, examine order status at a quick glance, and even curate the reasons items are returned to make necessary improvements to your service and fulfillment strategy.

With an optimal color scheme, a logical layout, and the perfect mix visualization including pue charts to represent order return reasons and bar charts to communicate order trends over specific time periods—plus easy to absorb image-based information—this is the essential toolkit for any ambitious retailer looking to make their mark in the digital age.

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“Data scientists are involved with gathering data, massaging it into a tractable form, making it tell its story, and presenting that story to others.” – Mike Loukides, editor, O’Reilly Media

Throughout our guide on how to develop a dashboard from a concept into a living, breathing, business-boosting reality, we’ve mentioned the importance of considering your audience, telling a story, and following best design practices, whether you need to visualize supply chain metrics or present comprehensive financial data to the relevant stakeholders.

By following these essential dashboard design tips and elements while taking inspiration from our practical examples, you’ll be able to create dashboards that not only help you gain more comprehensive access to your most important data but also boost internal communications and initiatives. Getting help from modern online BI tools that empower even non-technical users to manage large volumes of data will ensure a substantial increment in productivity, all presented in beautiful dashboards.

In the age of information, dipping your toes into your data or shooting in the dark isn’t enough. To win tomorrow's commercial battlefield, you must squeeze every last drop of value from your business data—and effective digital dashboards are the way to do just that. Now’s the time to start building your future.

With stunning visuals, advanced chart options, interactive functionality, and real-time data, modern dashboard design software like datapine has revolutionized the way you can report data.

Our interactive dashboards combine the level of power and flexibility that will pull your key metrics together, empowering you to run a better, more data-driven business. Don’t miss your chance and try datapine for a 14-day trial, completely for free!