Topic: Dashboard software help pages and system documentation
Dashboard design teams spend a lot of time on the do’s and don’ts of data visualization best practices. In fact, things can get quite heated during kpi and metric selection battles. Or even over whether dials, gauges and other bells and whistles deserve to be on the business dashboard. As an example, take a look at this dashboarder name-calling session.
Unfortunately, nowhere near that amount of energy is ever spent on the help and documentation aspects of a dashboard application. Maybe it’s because the help pages and system documentation is naturally at the tail-end of software development projects, and we dashboarders are just worn out by then.
This is unfortunate, of course, because proper support and help is critical to a truly useful business dashboard. Remember, the users of dashboards are usually not technically oriented and need extra care to decipher system messages. For that matter, many users are not that aware of the finer points of the KPIs and Metrics used and need documentation as to the business implications of the dashboard content.
It really is too bad when shortcuts are taken in terms of a dashboard’s help pages. Take a look at this help screen:
Now is that a crowded mess or what? I’ll bet that your headache only gets worse when you find that screenshot after clicking on the help button.
Here is the accompanying text that correlates to the numbered sections of the dashboard screen:
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m sure that the information is correct. I’ll bet that it is even helpful to the dashboard user. I’m just saying that the level of care taken during the dashboard design phase and the chart and graph construction was just not put into these help pages.
It’s a common occurence in software application projects that the help pages don’t get the attention they deserve. Just keep in mind, however, that with business dashboards, the help pages are often what the dashboard is judged by. Just wait until the first time the C-Level executive hits the help button to check what a particular KPI means…
Tags: Executive Dashboard Design, Help Documentation, Technical Writing, Dashboards, BI Dashboard, Business Dashboard Help Page