June 30

The Power of Dashboard Wireframes: Driving Actionable Business Value

NICHOLAS KELLY

If you want to know what makes the biggest impact in working with business stakeholders both in terms of engagement and improving data literacy, it is dashboard wireframes, and it's not even close.

The Power of DASHBOARD WireframESDriving ACTIONABLE Business Value Through Data Visualization 

Consider your typical challenges when building insightful, valuable, and actionable insights for business stakeholders. It's hard. It is hard because you are dealing with people rather than just data. The data part is probably the more accessible side of the equation to solve; at least, there are processes and steps with which you are familiar. However, dealing with people is rare in data courses and degrees. Enter dashboard wireframes.

Fortunately, in my years of analytics and business intelligence consulting, I have something to share with you that you can quickly pick up and start using right away. Wireframing.

Example of a high-fidelity dashboard wireframe

Example of a high-fidelity dashboard wireframe

While incredibly simple, wireframing can have a significant impact on the following:

  • Engaging business stakeholders in an easily understandable way
  • Aligning expectations and outcomes
  • Visualizing the result long before the development

That is just the tip of the iceberg, though. This article will detail all the benefits and outcomes you can expect from wireframing. But first, what is wireframing?

WHAT ARE DASHBOARD WIREFRAMES?

On a basic level, a wireframe is a simplified representation of how the result will eventually appear. Wireframes can design for varying levels of detail, from low-fidelity wireframes, which can be as simple as sketches on a piece of paper or whiteboard, to high-fidelity wireframes, which a data professional can make appear precisely as the end dashboard would look.

Example of a low-fidelity wireframe

Example of a low-fidelity wireframe (Dashboard Wireframe Kit)

Dashboard wireframing is an essential aspect of the design process for creating compelling data visualizations. It involves creating a visual blueprint, or wireframe, that outlines a dashboard's structure, layout, and functionality before any coding or development work begins. The wireframe provides a clear roadmap for the dashboard design and serves as a communication tool for the designers, developers, and business stakeholders involved in the project.

Dashboard wireframing is about translating complex data into a user-friendly interface that helps business stakeholders make informed decisions. By breaking down the dashboard into its parts and visualizing the relationships between them, wireframing enables designers to craft a dashboard that meets the unique needs and goals of the organization.

Wireframing is a critical step in the design process because it allows stakeholders to see the dashboard layout and functionality in a simplified format. They can provide feedback and suggest changes to ensure the dashboard meets their goals and objectives. 

Ultimately, dashboard wireframing creates a clear and practical visualization that enables stakeholders to quickly interpret the data and take action based on the insights from the dashboard.

While wireframing for dashboards serve much of the same purpose as wireframes for software, several key differences exist. 

The elements a dashboard wireframe should include are:

  1. Business question
  2. Outcomes or actions those questions driving
  3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  4. Filters
  5. Charts and their axes
Example of a low-fidelity dashboard  wireframe with the reverse side of the cards showing the necessary requirements for the selected visualizations.

Example of a low-fidelity wireframe with the reverse side of the cards showing the necessary requirements for the selected visualizations.

The lack of process is a significant reason picking the correct data visualization is problematic. Specifically, not following a systematic approach to requirements gathering. Why? Because the audience needs to be understood, i.e., the people consuming the charts and graphs. Indeed, it is easier to guess the best visualization with this approach.

Wireframe WITH Your Stakeholders

The Dashboard Wireframe Kit makes is fast and easy to collaborate with your stakeholders to design dashboards that focus on business value and drive action.

THE IMPACTS OF DASHBOARD WIREFRAMES

Whether you wireframe just using sketches on whiteboards, the Dashboard Wireframe Kit, or Adobe XD, there are considerable benefits:

Facilitates alignment with business stakeholders

Wireframing dashboards allow for early collaboration with business stakeholders to ensure the dashboard design meets their needs and goals. By identifying the key metrics and KPIs, the wireframe helps ensure alignment with the goals of the dashboard.

Drives action

By wireframing dashboards, presenting information in a way that supports decision-making and drives action is assured. This is because wireframing helps identify and prioritize key performance indicators, goals, and targets and enables end-users to quickly and easily identify areas where they need to take action.

Promotes behavioral change

Wireframing allows you to design dashboards that support behavioral change by using data to create a narrative that inspires and motivates end-users to change their behavior. Behavioral change is enabled by creating dashboards that present relevant data to end-users, tell a story, and encourage the desired behavior.

Supports change management

By wireframing dashboards, you can provide a clear vision of what the final product will look like, making it easier to get buy-in from stakeholders and drive successful change management. By involving stakeholders in the wireframing process, you can also ensure that the final dashboard meets their needs and expectations.

Boosts data literacy

Wireframing enables you to design dashboards that are easy to understand, even for non-technical end-users. Presenting data in a way that is intuitive and visually appealing helps end-users develop their data literacy skills and become more confident in working with data.

Cultivates a data culture

Wireframing can foster a data-driven culture by involving stakeholders in designing and developing dashboards. This involvement helps to build trust in the data and its insights and also helps to create a sense of ownership and accountability for the data and the outcomes it supports.

NICHOLAS KELLY

The question isn't "Should I wireframe?" it should be "What happens if I do not?". Failure to wireframe opens the door to greater and more dramatic risks for your project.

1: Facilitates alignment with business stakeholders

Dashboard wireframing visually represents the data and insights a business wants to communicate to its stakeholders. This visual representation helps align stakeholders around the same goals, objectives, and KPIs. With a clear understanding of the data presented and how it aligns with business objectives, stakeholders can work together to make informed decisions that drive the business forward.

Dashboard wireframing also helps to facilitate alignment by allowing stakeholders to provide feedback on the design and functionality of the dashboard. This feedback loop helps ensure that the dashboard meets all stakeholders' needs, including executives, managers, and front-line employees. By incorporating feedback from stakeholders early on in the design process, businesses can avoid misalignments and ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding data-driven decision-making. Ultimately, this alignment can lead to better outcomes for the company.

2: Drives action

Dashboard wireframing can help to drive action by providing a clear and concise representation of essential data and insights for decision-making. Wireframing a dashboard allows for determining which data is most relevant and how it should be displayed to facilitate quick and informed decision-making. With the ability to customize the layout and visualizations of a dashboard, it becomes easier to identify trends and patterns in the data, which can help business stakeholders to make informed decisions that drive action.

Another way that dashboard wireframing helps to drive action is by creating a sense of urgency and accountability. A clearly defined dashboard presenting the most critical data and insights makes it easier to hold stakeholders accountable for taking action based on the data. This can promote a culture of data-driven decision-making, where the action is taken based on the insights gained from the dashboard. Dashboard wireframing can drive action by providing a clear and concise representation of data, promoting accountability, and facilitating a culture of data-driven decision-making.

NICHOLAS KELLY

One certain way to lose your audience is in making them think about how to interpret a chart or graph. Don't make them think, make them act!

3: Promotes behavioral change

Dashboard wireframing drives action and promotes behavioral change within an organization. By visualizing the desired behaviors or actions, wireframing allows for a more tangible and understandable representation of what is needed to achieve business goals. The wireframe provides a clear and concise outline of what users should be doing, how they should be doing it, and the expected outcomes. This helps to establish a shared understanding and a clear set of expectations for all stakeholders involved.

Moreover, wireframing promotes behavioral change by encouraging a user-centered design approach. Wireframes put users and their needs at the center of the design process, ensuring that the dashboard is intuitive, user-friendly, and meets the needs of its intended audience. By involving users early in the design process, wireframing helps to create a sense of ownership and buy-in from stakeholders, increasing the likelihood that they will be willing to change their behavior to achieve the desired outcomes. In this way, wireframing can act as a catalyst for change, helping to shift the organizational culture towards a more data-driven and user-centric approach.

4: Supports change management

Dashboard wireframing can be a crucial component of any data-related change management initiative. Wireframing can mitigate resistance to change and make it easier for individuals to understand and adjust to new processes by providing stakeholders with a visual representation of the proposed changes. Wireframing can also serve as a communication tool for project managers, allowing them to articulate the intended changes to stakeholders better and solicit feedback before implementation.

In addition, wireframing can help identify potential issues or roadblocks before they become problematic. Reviewing wireframes with crucial stakeholders can identify and address problems early in the project lifecycle, minimizing the impact on the project timeline and budget. This can reduce overall project risk and increase the chances of a successful implementation. Ultimately, using dashboard wireframing in change management can increase buy-in and minimize resistance to change, leading to a smoother transition and a higher likelihood of project success.

Wireframe WITH Your Stakeholders

The Dashboard Wireframe Kit makes is fast and easy to collaborate with your stakeholders to design dashboards that focus on business value and drive action.

5: Boosts data literacy

Dashboard wireframing helps boost data literacy by providing a visual representation of data that is easy to understand. By creating a wireframe that communicates the presented information, even those not data experts can gain insights into the data. As they become more familiar with the wireframe, they can ask more sophisticated questions and gain a deeper understanding of the data. In addition, wireframing encourages users to think critically about the data they are presenting, leading to a greater appreciation of the insights that data can provide.

Another benefit of dashboard wireframing for data literacy is allowing for experimentation and exploration of different data scenarios. Users can better understand how other variables impact the presented insights by creating wireframes testing different data combinations and visualizations. These wireframes can help users develop their data intuition and make more informed decisions based on the data. In addition, by using wireframes to test different scenarios, users can quickly identify which data combinations are the most valuable and present them in a more polished dashboard format.

6: Cultivates a data culture

Dashboard wireframing also plays a vital role in cultivating a data culture within an organization. Wireframes can increase the frequency and ease with which teams discuss data by visually representing data in an easily digestible format and, in turn, helping to break down data silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration. A shared understanding of data can also foster trust and transparency between departments.

By making data accessible and easy to interpret, dashboard wireframing can also help to create a more data-driven organization. Stakeholders are empowered to make informed decisions based on data. When team members feel confident using data to drive decision-making, they are more likely to seek additional data and explore new ways of leveraging insights. The result can lead to more innovative and effective business strategies. Wireframing can help transform data from a siloed asset into a powerful tool for organizational growth and development.

IN SUMMARY, START WIREFRAMING NOW!

By wireframing dashboards, organizations can reap these considerable benefits and create a more effective and efficient approach to decision-making. Indeed, wireframing can be a low point of entry vehicle to start evolving the data culture in your organization.

Check out the Dashboard Wireframe Kit if you want to get started immediately with a proven tool for engaging with stakeholders.

Check out this video on How to Pick the Right Chart Types.

Nicholas Kelly

Tags

dashboard wireframe kit, wireframe, wireframes, wireframing


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