what should be included in a dashboard

What Should be Included in a Dashboard?

Business dashboards are useful tools that help you analyze data and get business insights to make better decisions. However, when we start building a business dashboard, we always wonder, “What should be included in a dashboard?”. Here’s what you should include in a business dashboard to make it intuitive and insightful.


What Should be Included in a Dashboard?

49% of businesses have reported better decisions due to business dashboards. However, there are so many KPIs such as revenue growth KPIs, marketing metrics, etc. What does a dashboard contain? What makes a dashboard good or bad? Here are the top things that should be included in a dashboard


1. Logical Layout

Business dashboards are easy to understand if you layout its metrics and KPIs in a logical manner. Otherwise, it can be quite distracting due to all the colors and visuals.

Organize your dashboard widgets into 3 layers. Make sure that your most important growth KPIs are at the top, followed by the trends, distributions & comparisons in the middle layer, and  granular details at the bottom.

dashboard design inverted pyramid

Place related metrics next each other so that the audience can quickly spot the relationships.

Here’s a sample dashboard created using Ubiq dashboard software, to help you understand what should be included in a dashboard.

business growth dashboard


2. Right Context

Creating charts with a data visualization tool is not enough. Make sure every dashboard widget provides the right context so that viewers can understand what each graph and report is all about. Otherwise your dashboard might confuse or even misguide your users. Here are some simple yet powerful ways to add more context for your dashboard widgets.

  • Use Descriptive Titles that explain what your widget is about
  • Add footnotes to clearly mention caveats and assumptions
  • Wherever applicable, include axis labels to describe what X-axis and Y-axis stand for
  • Make sure the entries in chart legend are intuitive
  • If your chart elements such as pie slices, columns, bars, etc. have values that are very close, consider adding data labels to clearly distinguish between them

Here are two sample revenue growth KPI charts. Which one is easier to understand?

chart context


3. Customizations

Every business has their own branding and logos to distinguish itself from others. If required, use the color scheme of your business as well as business logos to make your dashboards look more familiar to your audience. Most dashboard reporting tools allow you to add titles, footnotes, change colors and other charting elements easily.


4. Use Filters

Filters are one of the most important things that should be included in a dashboard. Filters allow you to dynamically slice and dice data to help your narrow your analysis (e.g one state/city/age group, etc) to something specific. It also allows you to generate dynamic graphs on the fly, without having to create separate charts.

For example, you can create a chart that shows overall monthly sales information, and add a filter which lists all cities, where your business makes sales. When user selects a city, the graph automatically refreshes with data only for the selected city. So you don’t need to create separate graphs for each city.

Here’s another example

sample report filter


Filters are available as dropdowns, sliders and even datecalendars.

sample filter


5. Use Drill-downs

Most reporting tools offer drill-downs that allow you to go into further detail from one place. For example, you can create a graph that shows city-wise distribution of sales.

sample drill down report in ubiq


When you click on any city, your business dashboard displays a drill-down chart of product-wise sales for that city.

sample drill down report in ubiq


Hopefully, now you have a good idea of what should be included in a dashboard. If you want to create business dashboards, reports & charts, you can try Ubiq. We offer a 14-day free trial!


Sreeram Sreenivasan is the Founder of Ubiq. He has helped many Fortune 500 companies in the areas of BI & software development.