Dashboard design - Part 3: Analytical dashboards

In earlier posts, we saw the various types of dashboards, and explained one of the types – strategic dashboard. In this post, we will see what analytical dashboards are, and how you can benefit from them.

What are Analytical Dashboards?
Analytical dashboards, as the name implies, are meant for data analysis. Though dashboards are typically meant only to be glanced upon to get a bird’s eye view, the advanced interactive features available in modern BI and analytics software like Zoho Analytics means that you can drill-down any of the reports or values displayed on a dashboard. So, data analysts can interact with such dashboards like how they do with individual reports. Such interactive dashboards used for further analyzing the data are known as analytical dashboards.

Analytical dashboards

  • provide trends of various metrics over time.
  • are highly interactive and enable deeper analysis.
  • help data analysts analyze long time trends and get insights.
  • are more complex than executive (and operational) dashboards.

Analytical Dashboards – Examples
Here are a few examples of analytical dashboards.

  1. Zoho CRM Sales Performance Overview (you can drill down on a particular bar of a chart)
  2. Google Analytics Traffic Source Overview (you can click on a point in a line chart and see the underlying data)
  3. Zoho Books Financial Health Overview (change the Period filter and see trends for different time ranges)

Here’s an example of how an analytical dashboard can help. Consider the below reports placed in the Google AdWords dashboard. We see the Ad Impressions, Clicks and Converted Clicks taking a dip for a few months, but the Cost kept going up. When we analyze the reports in the dashboard together, we can find out which Network (Search or Display), and Campaigns contributed to it, and why.

Designing Analytical Dashboards
Here are some points to keep in mind when constructing analytical dashboards.

  1. Analytical dashboards should be designed with long term strategic goals of the organization in mind.
  2. Analytical dashboards deal with trend analysis. They should show historical data over months, quarters or years.
  3. Your target audience for analytical dashboards are data and business analysts. Design your dashboards that would allow interaction (unlike strategic and operational dashboards, whose users typically view and not interact). Having the analytical dashboards available over the web through web browsers makes them most accessible.
  4. Define the scope of each of your analytical dashboards. Most times, analytical dashboards are scoped to a specific department like marketing, sales, finance etc. Data analysts though may use different analytical dashboards to compare trends across departments (say, how the marketing spend has affected sales).
  5. Analytical dashboards tend to be the most complex to understand when compared to strategic and operational dashboards. Keep that in mind when designing them. Avoid clutter, and make use of white space judiciously. Use the same color for a metric through out.
  6. Analytical dashboards should allow these basic types of interactivity: 1) see underlying data, 2) do data drill-down, and 3) filter for time periods or specific attributes.
  7. Allowing export of data, emailing and printing an analytical dashboard as a whole or part of it, can be added functionalities that expert users will love.

Try constructing analytical dashboards with Zoho Analytics, or register for a personalized live demo. In the next post, we’ll discuss Operational Dashboards in detail.


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