Design, UI, UX, Web Development

Dashboard Design: Complete Guide for Types of Dashboards [+ Examples]

Operational, analytical, and strategic dashboards examples

Let’s talk user dashboard design. Inspired by the car’s dashboard that gives you the data essential for your driving, like car speed, fuel level, miles run, or engine RPM, user dashboards serve multiple users depending on the type of data they need for their business.

In order to design an efficient dashboard, first, you need to know who’s going to use it. Depending on that dashboards fall into three main categories: operational, analytical, and strategic. In today’s article, I’ll go through the three types of user dashboards and highlight their differences. As usual, the best way to do that will be with many inspirational examples of great dashboard design.

Dashboard Design Guide: Overview


Businesses of all sizes manage to stay competitive with business intelligence solutions that provide effective data management. The most important of these solutions are the business dashboards that manage to extract, monitor, analyze and deliver actionable insights. To allow users to interact with that powerful data, the dashboards serve to visualize it in a comprehensive way and make it accessible at any time and any place.

The most crucial moment to bring your business lasting results is to choose the right type. What is the main purpose of the dashboard and what problem it’s going to solve?


Operational Dashboards

They show what’s happening in the current moment.

The most common user dashboard type is operational. It serves to provide an immediate comprehensive picture of the daily performance. With this in mind, operational dashboards rarely offer further options to manipulate data outside the initial view. Their sole purpose is to let you monitor and manage the day-to-day activities in real-time, covering the current day up to a week at maximum.


What makes a good operational dashboard design?

  • Show current data: This type of user dashboard is all about focusing on performance monitoring and operations in near real-time or real-time. Keep the data current.
  • Auto-sync: In order to prevent wasting time manually updating your data every few hours, it’s best to automate the process. Automatic data sync will make that process much easier. There are also dashboard tools that automatically refresh your dashboard at regular intervals or when new data comes.
  • Each metric has a target: Each metric serves a particular purpose (or it has no place on the dashboard). With operational dashboards, it’s a good practice to set a daily/weekly target for each metric. This way you and your team members will know exactly what the current target is, what it takes to reach it, and therefore optimize your strategy.
  • Target one department: Each department uses different metrics, so don’t overcomplicate things by including data for multiple departments in one single dashboard. Instead, have a separate operational dashboard for each department.

What user dashboards can be considered operational?

Although one operational dashboard will differ from another due to different goals, they all have one thing in common. They all monitor how your business performs currently.

A good example of an operational dashboard would be inventory dashboards for eCommerce businesses. They give users real-time data of their inventories, shipments, and returns.

Web analytic dashboards for websites and blogs are also operational as they show data for user sessions, sign-ups,  subscriptions, page views, and bounce rates over the course of a day or week.

Another example is the service desk dashboard that shows a real-time snapshot of the current state of your service desk. This may include completed, reopened, pending tickets, or calls during the day.

In this category, we can also refer to social media user dashboards. They show likes, followers, shares, re-tweets, etc.

Other examples refer to marketing performance and customer-service dashboards.

Examples of Good Operational Dashboard Design


Restaurant inventory operational dashboard by Hachibur Rahman.


Tasks and activity operational dashboard by Ram Peetha.


Modern blog operational dashboard concept by Raqib Nur.


Freelancer dashboard concept by Imhade Amavu.


Clinic schedule dashboard concept by Rostyslav M.


Meeting stats dashboard design by Sujit Kundu.


Dashboard courses by Nataliya Sizova.


Restaurant operational dashboard design by Garima Jain.


Help desk operational dashboard design by Sakthi.


Analytical Dashboards

They are interactive and allow filtering results and data drill-downs.

Analytical user dashboards supply businesses with a heavy amount of data with a comprehensive overview with middle management of its usage. They support businesses with historical data usage to help analysts see patterns, identify trends, make comparisons and predictions.

Since they are extremely complex in terms of the massive data needed for an entire company’s strategies, they need to be visualized very efficiently. This is why they usually feature pivot tables and drill-downs to deal with visualizing data across multiple variables.

In contrast to operational user dashboards, the analytical ones require a higher learning curve and level of understanding that the average user might struggle to process. With this in mind, this type of dashboard is targeted at executives and database analysts rather than the entire team or company. In most cases, businesses define user permissions so the data serves the right group of users.


What makes a good analytical dashboard design?

  • Long-term goals: When designing an analytical dashboard, always keep in mind the long-term strategy of the organization.
  • Historical data: Unlike operational dashboards, the analytical ones serve to identify trends and they need to give an overview of the historical data of an organization over months and even years.
  • Interactive: The analysts will need to interact with the data, not just view it.  The most basic interactions include filtering based on time periods and attributes, drill-down, and viewing underlying data.
  • Data export: Analysts will need to export, email, or print data so this is a great feature to consider adding.
  • Avoid clutter: Since analytical user dashboards deal with a huge amount of very complex data, things can get extremely overwhelming if the dashboard is designed poorly. The best way to ensure a great dashboard design UI/UX, make sure to avoid clutter, use a lot of white space, and group the same type of metrics with the use of colors.

What user dashboards can be considered analytical?

Since analytical dashboards deal with patterns and answering the big WHY?’s and WHAT IF?’s, they are the dashboards that compare trends over time, give forecasts, and measure campaign performances.

A great example of an analytical user dashboard would be Google Analytics that helps analysts to understand what visitors are doing on their website. As such, it collects traffic data that includes pageview, event, and e-commerce hits. The dashboard then processes the data and generates reports by users and sessions.

Other examples refer to financial performance and analytical KPI dashboards.

Examples of Good Analytical Dashboard Design


Brainify analytical dashboard design by Antoine Desprat.


Transport management system design by Andersen Design.


Analytical user dashboard design by George Railean.


Campaign Monitor dashboard design UI by Galib Pathan.


Analytical dashboard design UX by Sheeshpal Kotwal.


Integration dashboard design by Edmond Benson.


Financial analytical dashboard design by Sasha Rogachko.


Business intelligence and marketing analytics dashboard UI by HBI Design.


Strategic Dashboards

They give a bird’s eye view of the organization and are typically viewed once a month.

Strategic user dashboards provide upper management professionals with strategic intelligence and track performance metrics against organization-wide goals. In short, it measures KPIs to communicate goals. Such metrics include profit margins, sales numbers, and inventory levels. Since they summarize performance over a set time period, users usually view them once a month, quarter, or year.

Since strategic dashboards are high-level and included data that affects the entire organization, they can be made accessible for all employees. This way anyone will be able to look at the KPI and track the performance of the organization, which can bring a lot of benefits.

When designed right, they can help the user see the full retrospective data and compare it to the current period. With this in mind, the analyst can determine whether things for the organization have improved or not.



What makes a good strategic dashboard design?

  • Objectives: The metrics should always be linked to your business objectives.
  • Target audience: Depending on whom the strategic dashboard is meant for, group the data and link it to the respective objectives.
  • Logically grouped data: Group metrics logically for the different executives. For example, the metrics for a CMO would include conversion rates, CAC, customer value metrics, generated revenue, etc. While the CFO will need gross profit margin percentage, operating profit margin, earnings per share, employee count, etc.
  • Avoid clutter: Make sure to avoid clutter, use a lot of white space, and group the same type of metrics with the use of colors.
  • Include actions: As the metrics are related to the objectives, include insights and actions that should be taken.

What user dashboards can be considered strategic?

A classic example would be a management dashboard with a revenue overview for a quarter. It gives actual against target revenue with a percentage of target achievement. If the organization hasn’t reached the target, the dashboard usually indicated that an action must be taken. In addition,  such a management dashboard also presents a comparison between the last and current time periods to determine growth.

Other examples of strategic dashboards are the CMO dashboard, CFO dashboard for strategic planning, and high-level sales dashboards.

Examples of Good Strategic Dashboard Design


Sales strategic dashboard design by Mohidul Islam.


CRM project dashboard UX design by Chen Zhannan.


Financial management dashboard by Mubarak Abubakar.


Night Insight social media strategic dashboard design by Anjuman Alam Shubah.


Strategic financial dashboard by Anna Kulichikhina.


Cryptocurrency dashboard design by Julia Age.


Admin panel dashboard design by Abdallah Samir.


Work progress strategic dashboard UI/UX by Thirupathi Pullamalla.


In Conclusion

To summarize, good dashboard design offers:

  • Relevant data at first glance: The dashboard allows the user to find the information they’re looking for in seconds.
  • Complex data made simple: Data visualization presents complex data in a simple way. This allows users to comprehend data at first glance.
  • The right charts: Communicates data with the right type of charts and graphs. For example,  a multiple-axis line chart compares trends and changes over time.
  • Offers details: Aside from the overview, the dashboard reveals additional details.
  • Intuitive layout:  It includes the most important data on top, the trends in the middle, and details at the bottom.
  • Minimalism: The optimal number of visualizations for a dashboard is between 5 and 10.
  • The right order: Has a principle behind the particular order of the different sections.

By knowing who’s going to use your dashboard, you can design an operational, analytical and strategic dashboard. Now you can get to building the best dashboard that fits your needs.

In the meantime, why not check for more related insights on web development and web design?

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