Gone are the days of static presentations, stagnate reports and waiting on analysts to pull reports and then having out-of-date data. Thankfully, it’s also time to take a step back from your spreadsheets and slides. While Excel and PowerPoint, and the various other spreadsheet and presentation applications, remain important business tools for many, their interactivity options are limited.
Why do you need robust interactive dashboards? Interactive dashboards quickly engage end-users with a wide range of technical acumen and provide an intuitive experience and easily digested insights. They provide ROI by quickly highlighting trends and dig out irregularities.
Dashboards aren’t just for management, they can be easily capitalized on by all teams across a company. They enable you to easily visualize your data, filter on demand and slice and dice your data to dig in deeper. They can also be fun!
Are you sold on the power of interactive dashboards? Before rushing off to buy a dashboard software, or requesting it from the powers that be, there are several important features you should look for. We’ve already discussed the 15 necessary features a dashboard software must have, so we now have to determine our necessary interactive dashboard features.
Our Top 5 Interactive Dashboard Features
To take your data and insights to the next level and drastically improve ease of use, keep reading for five more items. If you want to see the power of these features in action, you can also check out this short video:
1) Dashboard Chart Filter / Click-to-Filter
A well-built interactive dashboard provides a variety of ways to dissect data. You should be able to easily explore your data to discover a wide range of insights. A great feature to further enable interactivity is a click-to-filter option. This allows dashboard users to utilize the dimensions of the dashboard’s charts and graphs as temporary filter values. It’s as easy as clicking on any data set in your charts. This action seamlessly creates a quick filter that applies to the data of your dashboard and delivers new insights in an instant.
Let’s further explore this interactive dashboard feature. Maps are important data visualizations and at datapine we love utilizing them in our dashboards. Dashboard maps get even better when using them with click-to-filter.
Say you want to visualize your revenue data by country. With click-to-filter, you simply click on a specific country (or countries!) on the map on the dashboard. You then activate this as a filter for your whole dashboard. The data visualized on the dashboard is now just for that chosen country. You can easily click out of it to return to an unfiltered view, or click into another country to access that data. With just a couple of quick clicks, users can easily interact with the data, finding what is pertinent to them. There is now no need to build data visualizations for every country, like you would have to do in Excel!
This example filters the dashboard for Australia and October using a click-to-filter.
2) Show or Hide Chart Values
A business often has many datasets and sources. It’s most likely that your data isn’t living in one spot. To further complicate things, the data can also be in multiple “languages”. For example, you may have different SQL databases, Google Analytics and sales data in a CSV. These all host invaluable data for your business. Before business intelligence and dashboard software, it was very difficult to combine these data sources and even harder to analyze them together. Cutting edge dashboard software allows you to combine and visualize multiple datasets in one dashboard, in just a few clicks.
However, when combining datasets, it’s imperative you’re comparing apples to apples and can easily filter across the combined data. Poorly built filters lead to misinterpreted data and misinformed business decisions.
A “show or hide chart values” feature is one of the many ways to better manage blended data. With a show or hide chart values feature, charts containing more than one dataset are presented with a dynamic legend at the bottom. With a simple click on a dataset variable, the data point will be excluded from the charts. This includes the ignored selected data in all calculations of totals or accumulations in your charts.
For example, let’s say your dashboard contains a chart of five different marketing campaigns and you only want to dig into four of them. All you do is deselect the one campaign in the legend you don’t want to view, and that campaign data will disappear from all the related data visualizations. Imagine trying to do this in Excel!
3) Time Interval Widget
Another built-in interactive interactive dashboard feature you should look for is a time interval widget. These widgets allow you to enhance individual time scales on different charts on your dashboards with an interactive drill-down function.
Easily look at revenue & sales across day, week, month and year time intervals.
With a time interval widget, you choose the time interval of the data displayed on your chart using a date or time field on the X-Axis with a click of your mouse. Use this function to move from a yearly to a monthly, weekly or daily view of your data without changing the time period displayed on your whole dashboard. This is especially helpful if you want to change time intervals of single charts really fast without affecting other data visualizations on your dashboard.
4) Chart Zoom
While you should be able to open a well-designed dashboard and immediately glean a story, a robust interactive dashboard provides multiple layers of knowledge allowing you to see a 30,000-foot view of your data or zoom into the minutia. A chart zoom feature helps you do this.
While a time interval widget helps you choose your desired time interval, you may need to dig even deeper. This is when you need a chart zoom. This function lets you drill-down into the smallest unit of time for charts using any date or time field on the X-Axis.
datapine’s chart zoom allows you to simply drag the mouse over the part of the chart you wish to view on a more granular basis and narrow the time period displayed, depending on the selection.
Data vizes can provide beautiful representations of your data. While we would all love to see perfect data all the time, that isn’t practical. A data visualization is the easiest way to surface data irregularities.
Surfacing these irregularities provides some of the biggest ROI from business intelligence software. A chart zoom feature is an especially useful way to drill-down and investigate your data after finding these irregularities.
For example, after looking at the past week using a time interval widget, you identify a day with 50% less daily revenue. Using a chart zoom, you can hone in to see revenue on this day by hour and look for inconsistencies. Maybe your online shop was down for several hours last Friday. Now, you can easily correlate your downtime and lack of revenue.
You can even use these insights to justify investing in a better fail safe! Saving money by zooming in on a chart, that is the power of interactive dashboards.
5) Dashboard Widget Linking
Your business doesn’t live in a vacuum, and neither should your dashboards. Each dashboard created should be a live snapshot of your business. Combining and connecting these snapshots takes your BI to the next level.
We’ve already discussed using dashboard tabs to combine your data story chapters. Dashboard widget linking helps to further unify your dashboards. It enables you to add links to any widget on your dashboard whether it’s a chart, textbox or image and redirects dashboard users and viewers to other related content. You may link to another dashboard tab or even to external website or resource.
Let’s say one of your dashboard contains a high level Key Performance Indicators (KPI) tab that provides snapshots of all your departments. You then have subsequent more detailed tabs for each individual department. If you don’t have this resource, this is a dashboard best practice and we highly recommend layering your data like this!
By using a dashboard widget link you can easily move from an overview chart, for Sales for example, on the KPI tab to a related Sales dashboard tab, where you find many other more detailed charts and sales-focused KPIs.
Modern dashboard software, like datapine is helping to drive business with real-time interactive dashboards. This software is easier to use than spreadsheet programs and provides a wider range of features. With an innovative dashboard software that provides these five interactive features as well as the previously mentioned 15 necessary features, you can prepare stunning interactive data visualizations of your business data. Better yet, you can easily do it on your own with a few clicks and with no advanced IT skills. Don’t believe us? Start your free trial and check for yourself. You can create your first charts and dashboard in minutes.