Key Features and Elements of a Dashboard

Key Features and Elements of a Dashboard

In the previous chapters, you learned about the benefits and challenges of adopting dashboard and reporting software.

Now let’s take a look at the basic features and elements that comprise dashboard design. We will do this by examining a specific piece of business intelligence (BI) software that eventually helps make an effective business intelligence dashboard.

In this chapter, we will discuss the key features and elements of a dashboard.

Dashboards come in different shapes and sizes. Some offer a minimalist approach to data consolidation, while others report as much data as possible. A standard dashboard design can also go elaborate. 

We’ll cover the pros and cons of individual dashboard software later in this series. Understanding the key features and elements of a dashboard would make every dashboard designer realize what we are looking for in a perfect and working dashboard design.

KPI Dashboard Features and Elements

To fight data sprawl, you’ll want most-if not all of these features in your following successful dashboard.

KPI Dashboard Measuring

This element is a crucial dashboard element that people must take note of. Dashboards provide the most value when they measure your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

The difference between regular data and a KPI is that KPIs lead to action, whereas regular data can’t act on generic data (such as daily visitors) in a meaningful way.

KPIs help you monitor the most valuable assets and expenses in your organization. They allow you to observe your team’s progression towards a specific goal, whether sales, digital marketing, or production.

They also enable you to make informed management decisions using historical trends and metrics.


Dashboards visualize your data in a manner of ways. Colorful charts and eye-catching tables help convey essential metrics quickly and attractively.

Data that has been converted into a visual chart or graph is faster and easier to comprehend. This allows a user to understand complex dashboard data that can improve business performance. For example, you can use a bar chart to explain specific numbers and figures affecting your vanity metrics.

A good KPI dashboard will have a variety of chart options to choose from. Whether you want to divide your data in a pie chart, observe growth using a stacked column, or display productivity on a line graph, dashboard software will convert your metrics into the appropriate visualization.

Real-time Data Processing

The data reflected in a well-designed dashboard needs to be processed in real-time to remain relevant. Quick data processing is a feature that ensures your data is timely and accurate.

While it may never reflect specific changes within seconds after they occur, dashboard software is constantly evolving to meet the demands of modern business.

Global Filters

More often than not, dashboards present multiple graphs and charts on a single page. This enables you to measure your most important KPIs from a central hub.

However, let’s say you want to adjust a date range, observe the performance of a specific department or track the progress of a recent shipment. Filtering each chart and visual would be time-consuming.

Good BI software will integrate global dashboard filters into its design. With just a few clicks, you can easily make adjustments that affect the data displayed throughout your dashboard. Better yet, you can often save your customized filters, so you or another viewer can snap to a saved metric at any time.

Global Style Options

On the same token as global filters, global style options enable you to change the appearance of your dashboard elements without having to create an entirely new visualization.

Not only can you swap a specific chart in or out, but you can change the font, color, background, and border of any visual.

This is an important feature to have, as it allows you to customize and brand your data according to your organization’s goals.

Global style options also help you tell a better story, shaping the design of your data in a way that’s attractive and appealing.

Having an organized data table would allow everyone to understand how the business works according to the numbers reflecting on the interactive dashboard.

Embedded Objects

The best dashboard designs enable you to embed objects directly into the KPI dashboard itself. That means when you share reports with stakeholders, rather than seeing the logo of the dashboard itself, you can place your company’s logo on the dashboard instead.

Sometimes you can customize the specific colors and themes of a dashboard to better suit the unified image you’re trying to achieve.

24/7 Access

Your data and analytics can be available to you at any time of day, from any device. Businesses can access most cloud-based dashboard software from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Some dashboards may not offer mobile support yet, but many are adopting this feature if it becomes an industry standard.

Sharing Options

Sharing the data and reports from your dashboard helps cultivate a data-driven environment in your organization. Good KPI dashboard software often includes numerous options for sharing data quickly with your team.

This can be done via logging into a dashboard from another device, sending visualizations and reports by email, or using an external viewer.

KPI Dashboard Tabs

While the goal of any dashboard software is to give its users an at-a-glance observation of their data, sometimes that can lead to information overload.

Dashboard tabs are a valuable feature for when there’s too much data to display on a single page. You can have separate dashboards related to traffic, marketing, social media, and more with tabs.

Rather than trying to gleam connections from a single dashboard, you can flip through organized tabs to quickly find relevant data.

Dynamic Images

The same importance that’s placed on visualizing data can be applied to other information as well. Some dashboards enable dynamic images– a feature that allows you to display images according to the information that’s being presented.

For instance, if you want to show the best-selling products of any given month, you can tag an image of a product to its corresponding data. This image will now be dynamic in the sense that it will appear (or hide) based on how you filter your data.

Printing Bounds

You might need to print the information on a dashboard for physical reference. In those cases, printing bounds help you format a KPI dashboard to be exported. Printing bounds can then transform your dashboard into a PDF or PNG file without disrupting the visualizations.

This makes presentations a breeze, as you can hand out printed copies of the dashboard while going over the virtual version on a projector or monitor.

Next up: The Types of Dashboard Software Architecture

Should you choose on-premise or cloud-based software? What’s the difference, and does it matter? In the following article, we explain the different types of software architecture and the pros and cons of each one.

Questions? Let’s talk about your use case and see if DashboardFox is a fit.