/ Why public dashboards are a must-have

Why public dashboards are a must-have

Without data analytics, today’s businesses can’t survive. They need to be able to analyze and visualize their data to make decisions, build strategies, and drive insight.

This is true in a broad sense, but it’s also true at a deeper business level. To succeed in their business operations, teams and departments need access to data and analytical tools.

Even lower than that, a business can’t implement and execute an effective data strategy unless employees are on board. Businesses need to make data tools accessible to their employees as well.

Without this sort of generalized data access, businesses aren’t able to make the most effective use of their business intelligence tools. If they limit who can access their BI tool, the value of that tool will be limited as well.

A bottom-up, employee-driven data strategy is essential for businesses that want to use their BI tools in the most beneficial way possible. The challenge then becomes actually making that happen.


The vast majority of businesses use dashboards and visualizations as their primary channel for communicating data insight. Without dashboards, it would be almost impossible for businesses to share any sort of data implication or make their reports visible to those who need them.

Any business trying to build an employee-level data strategy will need to make dashboards a key part of that strategy. There just isn’t a better way to communicate data to a large group of people.

Public dashboards represent a clear answer to a business’s data access problems. On a public dashboard, data managers make important analytics and metrics public, allowing access to everyone who might be interested in them.

By properly utilizing public dashboards, businesses can easily encourage an employee-driven data culture, where every worker has the ability to find their own data insight.


What is a public dashboard?

A public dashboard is its own kind of dashboard implementation. A business can’t just give a few people access to a dashboard and call it public. Public dashboards need to be designed from the ground up to share broad business data with a broad audience.

Public dashboards are broad, departmental or company-wide dashboards that give a high-level view of business operations. They’re less about meeting specific business needs and more about providing a large-scale view of operational health.

For example, a public marketing dashboard isn’t going to follow the trends and report on the metrics of one specific campaign. Instead, it’ll report on broad marketing trends and how campaigns are trending as a whole.

Marketing teams that are managing specific campaigns may have campaign-specific dashboards that are visible to all team members, but it’s hard for team-level dashboards to have the sort of scale a public dashboard needs.

Employees view public dashboards so they can get an idea of how their efforts are contributing to the larger business picture. They don’t need to rely on canned reports or their supervisors to know whether their department is succeeding; they can just look.

Public dashboards act as the bridge between a user’s individual efforts and broader business trends. At businesses without them, employees often work in the dark. They don’t understand how their own efforts contribute to overall business success.

Public dashboards can provide that context. They allow employees to see where their work fits in, both to a departmental level and company-wide scale. This helps people to feel like they’re working towards the same goals.

That feeling, that everyone’s pulling in the same direction, is an important element of building a data culture. You can’t build a data culture when no one knows their overall goals and feels like they’re a team of one.


What should public dashboards show?

Since public dashboards represent their own unique challenges for dashboard design, it’s important to figure out what sort of data they should display. If a public dashboard doesn’t provide useful information, it won’t provide any value to its audience.

The specifics of what a public dashboard should include will change depending on the business and the department. While generally, KPIs and other key metrics are pretty similar, each business prioritizes them in different ways.

However, there are some general rules for how a designer can construct a public dashboard.

Prioritize key performance indicators

A good public dashboard should make key performance indicators as clear as possible. This way, dashboard viewers don’t have to waste time looking for the metrics that are the most important to them.

Key performance indicators, or KPIs, are the metrics that correlate most closely to business success. Generally, these will be the metrics that a business uses to set goals and evaluate performance.

These metrics change from business to business and from department to department. Different businesses may evaluate the health of their business in different ways and want to prioritize different metrics.

For example, there are a few different metrics that marketing teams can use to gauge their success. There are pure conversion rates, which show the number of people who viewed a campaign, and then bought a product. There’s also a cost per conversion, which is the average amount of spend it takes to acquire a new customer.

Both of these metrics are important for gauging marketing success, but the one a business chooses to prioritize says a lot about their marketing priorities.

If a business is tracking conversion rates as its primary KPI, then it’s likely that they’re focusing on customer acquisition and growth, regardless of what that growth costs.

However, if a business is tracking cost per conversion as its primary KPI, then it’s more likely that they want the most bang for their buck in terms of marketing, even if that means they’re acquiring fewer customers than they could be.

To effectively build a public dashboard, designers need to know what their business priorities are and which KPIs most effectively represent their business’s success against those priorities.


Use clear, thoughtful design

Users shouldn’t spend very long interacting with a public dashboard. They should be able to get the information that they need at a glance, without clicking around, scrolling, or filtering.

That means dashboard designers need to be very intentional about how they prioritize, arrange, and visualize the metrics and analytics on a public dashboard.

Important metrics, the ones that viewers are going to want the most often, should be placed in locations and scaled to a point where users can see them easily and immediately when they first view the dashboard.

Other metrics, ones that help to give greater context or explain the central metric in greater depth, should be organized in ways that tell a story, tie together related information, and provide flow to the hierarchy of information.

Encourage access

Even the best public dashboards won’t provide any value if people don’t actually access them. Public dashboards need to be public. Otherwise, their metrics will go unchecked and their insight will go unused.

Figure out ways you can work public dashboards into your users’ workflows. Often, businesses will publicize their dashboards on screens or monitors in their offices so that users can physically check them when they need to make a decision.

Other implementations, like embedded reporting, allow for even more flexibility in where and how you can show off your dashboard. If you’ve built public dashboards but are finding that your employees are still struggling, you can look into one of those solutions.


Public dashboards—crucial to BI success

Businesses need public dashboards to provide context to their employees and guide their operations. They’re essential for employees to feel like they’re part of a team and not just working blindly for some unknown goal.

They’re also just as useful as dashboards. They help to communicate business analytics, which allows anyone who views them to draw insight and make empowered, data-driven decisions.

Businesses that are struggling to encourage data-driven insight among their employees should re-examine their public dashboard strategy. Public dashboards can help a business build an effective, employee-driven data culture.

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