We tried our best to provide a consistent, effective and usable dashboard for Countly. For the last 4 months, our staff examined hundreds of dashboards, tried them out and asked people around for their opinions on how to make business intelligence attractive.
Other critaria we’ve been focusing on were the following:
- We needed a color theme. We dropped this option in favor of speed and time-to-market, so current setup doesn’t propose one. We doubt that there’ll be theming option in the future, but nothing is written on stone, yet.
- We wanted docking support. In the first version, this is also dropped, but as you’ll see in our roadmap in the upcoming days, this will be realized soon.
- We wanted to support all devices, including TV, tablet and phone. (With the help of a colleague) now we are writing the iPad and iPhone versions, and HD-TV resolution-readiness is in our list.
While designing a dashboard, we’ve witnessed a few evident mistakes other dashboards have bumped into, and most of these issues have been duplicated with various (modern, enterprise) dashboards also. Here are some points that we took into consideration while drawing and coding the interface:
- We tried to stay away from popping up lots of alarms and notifications.
- When displaying an alarm, it should be noticable, so end user can easily consume it, and dismiss it.
- Lack of white screen - I think we achieved this goal with our dashboard, but lots of ideas that will easily clutter the dashboard are in our minds - we have to be careful with that too.
- Giving only numbers, and forgetting what they really are about is another mistake.
- Using excessive piecharts around - while they look impressive, it’s hard to give the basic “message" at first sight.
- Last but not least, it’s important to match the information provided with the type of graphics. We are aware that some charts you currently see in our interface need improvement, or at least modification (especially the barchart in devices tab).
Here’s a good blog post from Enterprise Dashboard Digest, where they stated 5 questions a dashboard must answer:
- What’s going on? (the operating summary)
- How do we stand? (scorecard)
- What are our winners and losers? (top and bottom performers)
- Where should we be working? (opportunities and problems)
- Where are we heading? (trends)
Are there improvement areas with Countly? Sure, a lot!. This is why we’ve written this blog post. Please send your comments and critics, so we can build the next generation, open source mobile analytics application that everybody loves using!