Insight from Agora Consultants

Emotions and Dashboard Design


In my previous post, Do emotions have a role to play in dashboard design? I discussed how emotions play a part in good design.  In this posting I’ll discuss how emotions would play apart in good design of a dashboard. As mentioned in the previous post, design can be broken into the aspects of visceral, behavioural and reflective.

Visceral refers to how to people react when they encounter something. It is the instinctive response to the stimuli presented. With respect to dashboards, this would be the visual cues provided in the dashboard. Some design implications are:

  • Color. Certain colors evoke different emotional responses. Use bright, solid colors to draw attention and muted colors as the standard colors so as not to induce stress on the user.
  • Layout. Some layouts are pleasing others are not. In your dashboard strive to have a balance of information over the whole dashboard. Do not have information crowded in one section and sparse in another.
  • Surfaces. Use subtle visual effects to provide separation of information areas. Light shadows are particular effective at this.

Behavioural refers to the usability of the dashboard. How well does the dashboard convey the information required by the user. Some good background information on usability design is listed in the Gartner report, Tips for Implementers: The Basics of Good Dashboard Design.

Reflective refers to the long term feelings someone has of using a product (in this case, dashboard). A person would ask themselves:

  • Would I be proud to show this to my boss and peers?
  • Do I feel it helps me get my job done?
  • Is it dependable?
  • Does it exceeds expectations

Some implications for a dashboard are that it must have:

  • Good data quality. The user likes a dashboard with dependable information.
  • Good performance. People like things to be quick.
  • Reliable. It should always be there when the user wants it.
  • Prints well. Although designed for a screen, a dashboard that prints well exceeds expectations.

From a reflective point of view, often the environment will have a significant impact on the use of the dashboard. If Senior Executive provides recognition and support of the dashboard and use it themselves, it is more likely the rest of the organization will follow and have higher respect for dashboard.

Are people complaining that your dashboard is useful but ugly? Consider incorporating some of these emotional design elements.

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