/ What the Classroom Taught Me About Dashboard Design

Before working at Domo, I taught middle and high school. When I first started teaching, I was hounded with advice. “It’s okay to use worksheets.” “Don’t feel bad about assigning the chapter and questions.” “Feel free to copy exactly what I’m doing.” Though these suggestions were appreciated and sounded like an easy way to teach, I realized

Before working at Domo, I taught middle and high school. When I first started teaching, I was hounded with advice. “It’s okay to use worksheets.” “Don’t feel bad about assigning the chapter and questions.” “Feel free to copy exactly what I’m doing.” Though these suggestions were appreciated and sounded like an easy way to teach, I realized that if I was going to accomplish anything with my students, I needed a new approach.

Instead of picking up the literature book to plan the year (yes…year!), I examined the needs of the students. What did the state expect them to learn? What were they supposed to have learned last year? What did they actually learn? I abandoned the free-for-all, bottom-up approach offered to me and designed my classroom with the end goal in mind. A top-down strategy.

The results? First, the students knew exactly what their goal was for each lesson, unit, and theme. Second, learning was connected and applied which helped the students find relevancy and usefulness in the work. No assignment was seen as “busy work.” Finally, the focus was on student learning. If the students took longer than expected to grasp the concept, it was changed and modified based on their needs. Did this take time and effort? Yes. Did it create for a better classroom experience? Just ask my former students. (Seriously. One of them works at Domo. You can reach him at @iammerrick.)

In this new world of business intelligence, dashboard design needs to be approached much like my classroom. Too many dashboard projects are quickly scraped together based on what data is available or what was done in the past. This bottom-up approach will doom any dashboard project just like it will any classroom. Before you design your next dashboard project, take a look at “The 7 Deadly Sins of Dashboard Design” to make sure you avoid this and other common mistakes. It’s got some great advice to help you maximize the value of your data and BI investments.