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Author's profile photo Maya Chowdhury

Dashboard Design Using SAP Analytics Cloud

Designing a dashboard in SAP Analytics Cloud isn’t just about knowing UI/US design. If anything, that’s the least important part of putting together a dashboard. There’s no easy answer to the question. This question is more complex than asking what courses one must take to graduate as an engineer. While there’s no exact way to become a master of SAP Analytics Cloud dashboard design, a handful of principles will serve you well in your journey.

Understand SAP Analytics Cloud Intimately

If you don’t know the software, you’ll have a terrible time trying to become the best dashboard designer you can be. There are several layout features newcomers, to SAP Analytics Cloud will have to deal with. A dashboard aims to communicate information to onlookers. Therefore, a designer must be able to combine charts styles and know when to use them. Things like tables and hierarchies are necessary knowledge to being a good designer. The charting and table area isn’t all you’ll need to know, but it’ll be your first step to being a good designer.

The next thing you’ll need to know is the formatting options the dashboard offers. Information in a dashboard needs to be distilled so that someone looking at it can quickly determine at a glance what they’re looking at. Knowing what graphs are controlled by what inputs gives you more control over your outputs. Advanced features can further streamline those results, allowing you to add filters, maps, and other data that can help to streamline further what the data is saying. Your aim as a designer is not to make just the most aesthetically pleasing dashboard possible. It’s to create a good dashboard that communicates valuable information.

Case Uses, Ideal Personas, and Buyer Journeys

Each dataset contains many stories. It’s your goal as a designer to unlock these stories and create a dashboard that is unique and valuable in its purpose. Look at the data and the story you want to tell in this case. What is your goal? What are you trying to communicate? What type of insights will help the people seeing this dashboard? All of these are questions that your dashboard needs to answer to fulfill its goals. To help you identify concrete use cases, you can use a user journey map. The users you’re engaging with have ideal personas – archetypes that break down their wants and needs into easy-to-understand descriptions. The user journey describes these personas and what they’re looking for. Without this solid cause underlying a dashboard, it’s unlikely that it will be able to provide helpful information, no matter how good it looks.

Set Up Design Best Practices

In every professional field in the world, best practices guide what one does and how one approaches any number of problems. Most people who become designers don’t really start there. They begin as data scientists or engineers and have the task of putting together a dashboard that can explain what they know to the non-specialist. You don’t need to be a designer or an artist to learn proper dashboard design. You need to understand what the data is trying to say and find an efficient way to present it to the audience. With dashboard design in SAP Analytics Cloud, you don’t need to be a designer to figure out what works. You can be any base profession.

However, that doesn’t exclude you from figuring out the things that work best. When you layout the initial look of a dashboard, it’s likely to be crude and maybe end up with a mishmash of styles that make it difficult to focus. Your first dashboard is expected to be a mess, but you have the chance to improve it. If you have a colleague who’s better at design than you, you can pick their brains for what should be improved. Here, you can start crafting your design best principles. The best dashboards are never designed on the first iteration. Usually, it takes three or more tries to get a dashboard to the level of competence you want it to be.

Design Standards Are Crucial

Just like best practices are the core of good dashboard design, the standard for your layout is also crucial. Using a standardized look and feel has the dual benefit of making your dashboards easy to use at a glance and leaving your unique imprint on anything you do. The standards and guidelines you develop should address:

  • The UI style, scale, and consistency of colors, fonts, etc.
  • Scaling of each of the design elements of the dashboard
  • Set up a reference manual that you can use for other design-related tasks
  • Add hints as to why the dashboard was designed in this way

These aren’t hard and fast rules and can be changed or moved around as necessary. There are no definite rules in design, just stuff that works and stuff that doesn’t. The design standards help you figure out more of what works, so you don’t have to spend so much time in the future in trial and error.

Good Dashboard Design Isn’t Innate

Any designer you speak to will tell you that there’s no automatically good design. Even the most perfect designs at first glance can be tweaked and adjusted. It’s just the nature of how innovation is. Something might look great to you, but a room of colleagues might hate how it looks. Getting feedback often is a good idea to streamline the aesthetics of your design. Despite all of this talking about it, the number one way to improve design is to do it. Jump in, and see what you can build. Sure, you might start with a terrible design, but we all start with appalling designs. Eventually, with the proper guidelines, it becomes something you can truly appreciate as masterful.

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      Author's profile photo Mohamed Hefnawy
      Mohamed Hefnawy

      Hi Maya,


      Thanks for the Blog, I want to add that Dashboard design is more are than science. art of insight communication which you-as a designer- should know how your audience is picking their information from the dashboard.