By their nature and design, some business dashboards are “set and forget”. That is, the dashboard user configures the dashboard settings at some point when they start using it and hardly ever fiddles with it again going forward. Or, they never change it from the default settings. In fact, many dashboards don’t offer any user configuration at all and not too many users complain.
On the other hand, other dashboards, by their nature, encourage a high degree of user configuration. BI reporting type dashboards, of course, allow changing of query parameters, selection of charts, etc. Putting analysis aside, there are dashboards that encourage quite a bit of user personalization. Mashup dashboards, by definition, allow users to select modules (widgets, gadgets, portlets – call them what you want!). Users will always go through a series of trials of different content and layouts before finding a satisfactory configuration. The challenge with these types of dashboards is to come up with a design that is intuitive to use and encourages exploration. The obvious requirement is that it should be very easy to change your content.
RIA (Rich Internet Applications) dashboards feature various ways to accomplish this such as drag and drop, configuration screens, etc. Sometimes, however, the simplest way is the best way. Take a look at this dashboard screenshot.
Rather than send the user to a separate configuration page, this mashup dashboard simply presents a series of checkboxes at the bottom of the page. Clicking a content selection instantly populates the dashboard with the desired content. A simple and easy-to-understand design solution for page configuration.
Try the page out for yourself at www.kpnvandaag.nl. It’s a Dutch site, so don’t ask me to comment on the content! It’s a typical RIA portal (think iGoogle or MyYahoo). The site is powered by a lightweight RIA portal solution called Backbase Rich Portal.
Tags: Dashboard Design, RIA Dashboards, Ajax dashboard, Mashups