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Dashboard creation: The Post-it note approach

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It’s very easy to jump straight into a Geckoboard trial - it’s free and only a few clicks away. But by starting your dashboard build online, you can get bogged down in the technicalities of choosing visualisations and trying to organise and order the widgets, which means you’re less likely to consider the bigger picture.

You need to know your ‘what’ before you get to the ‘how’ and we’ve found that using good old fashioned pen and paper helps get the creative juices flowing.

The Post-it system also works very well for those who have already built dashboards before but are starting a new project and need a new one.

INTRODUCING THE POST-IT NOTE APPROACH

Post-it notes are a low cost, low effort way of planning and visualising your business dashboard. Square Post-its match our standard 1x1 widgets well, which allows you to also do some rough spacial planning on paper. The best thing is that a Post-it widget is super quick to make and very easy to discard. Just be sure to recycle!

FOUR EASY STEPS TO CREATING A POST-IT DASHBOARD

1. Brainstorming

Sit down around a table with plenty of Post-it note pads at hand. Establish what kind of dashboard you’re building. If it’s an executive level dashboard, discuss which key performance indicators align with your overall business strategy. If you’re brainstorming a departmental dashboard, make sure the KPIs align with the overall business KPIs.

Want to learn more about the difference between good and bad KPIs? Watch the Lean Analytics lectures by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz.

At this stage, focus on what KPIs you really want and worry later about how you actually get them. Every time you decide on a KPI, ask: ‘Is it actionable?’. If it is, put the Post-it in the middle of the table.

Post-it_brainstorm

2. Grouping

Stick the pile of Post-its up on a whiteboard or maybe even on a TV screen if you’ll be displaying your dashboard on a wall. Don’t worry about the order.

The purpose of this step is to figure out how to group your metrics. Discuss and move the Post-its around until you have groupings that make sense to your team, be it by campaign, time frame or following other guidelines.

3. Visualisation

Now you need to start thinking about how you can best visualise your chosen KPIs. It’s worth looking at Stephen Few’s book Information Dashboard Design for best practice advice on this. As part of choosing the right visualisation, you should also set your timeframe parameters – rolling 28 days, daily, 84 days, weekly etc.

After the grouping and visualisation steps, it’s a good time to take stock of your paper dashboard and check if it’s looking cluttered. The fewer widgets you can add the better since your brain will need more processing time the more you display. Remember - a dashboard should be digestible at a glance.

There is always the option of creating more than one dashboard as they can be set up to run in a loop.

4. Go digital

Your Post-it dashboard is now ready to be translated into a digital one. Transform your Post-it widgets into real widgets then take stock again. You might realise the dashboard needs some more tweaking. This is perfectly normal since a great dashboard evolves over time. But by using the Post-it approach, you’ll have a good 1.0 version to build on.

Now it’s your turn! Get your sticky notes out and get creative. Tweet us a photo of your Post-it dashboard and we’ll send some Geckoboard sticky notes and a T-shirt your way.

Liked this article? Try these next:

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