If your company works with Domo, you’ve probably seen one – a dashboard with a ton of information, showcasing awesome, detailed cards decked out in your company colors. There are drill downs, interactive components across bar charts, tables, pie charts and gauges. It’s cool – think Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception cool – but like the plot of Christopher Nolan’s film, you have to spend a lot of time and energy to understand what’s going on.
Users should not need to visit a dashboard multiple times to get the insights they’re looking for. Most BI users don’t have time to dig into complex dashboards when they have a business question. We have found the best way to lead users efficiently to insights is to build dashboards around a specific question or story. So how can we get started telling a story with Domo?
Frame Your Initial Discussion Around a Business Question
Data storytelling starts when you first decide to build a dashboard. When you are starting in Domo, or are asked to build a new page, ensure you know what business question you are trying to answer. Ignore the data you have and the visualization options available in this first step.
Clients tend to get into Domo and just start building. After all, Domo was created to promote data exploration for all and does a great job of getting users excited about the possibilities. But when users jump right into building, they quickly feel overwhelmed and/or end up with large dashboards that are hard to navigate. The real reason we create dashboards is to help businesses gain insights and make better, data-driven decisions – so framing discussions around what business questions need to be answered allows you to focus on delivering those specific insights as efficiently as possible.
Map Out Which Cards You Will Need and Their Layout
Once you know the reason for the build, you can get started figuring out how to display the information. Domo dashboards offer Headers that let you separate out different sections of the page. Using the actual business question in each header is one strategy that allows end users to find relevant info quickly. But if you don’t go that route, it’s helpful to include some descriptive information in each header, or a text card, that explains the relevancy of the information provided in each section.
Users will read down the page like any website – left to right and top to bottom – so the first thing users will see is the top few cards. This section is best used for high level, quick to understand cards that provide simple relevant information, like gauges or single digit values. Users should see these cards and quickly locate the high-level answer to their question, knowing that they can dig into the ‘why’ information below if needed.
Cards below this initial section should guide users to answering the ‘why’ to the metrics reported above. Charts that map changes over time, show composition, or generally show more detail are appropriate here. Incorporating drill downs, or cards that offer interaction, can be a good option that encourages users to explore the data more deeply when they have the interest and time.
Build the Dashboard
Knowing which metrics you would like to show, and at which granularity, it is time to source the data. Domo offers prebuilt connectors, custom APIs, file uploads, and more options to bring data into the platform. Once it’s in, you can use various features like SQL and ETL dataflows to transform and join data. Ensure you set the schedule for data ingestion and transformation so that the dashboard will offer the freshest data necessary to make decisions.
Once the final datasets are ready to go, you can (finally) start building cards! Choose card types that display information in an easy-to-understand way – check out this blog post for tips on how to choose the right visualization type for your data. Strategically place headers and text cards to explain what each section of the dashboard is for. Think through how large each card needs to be – information that needs to be more prominent should be larger to draw attention. Domo offers a multitude of prebuilt and totally customizable options for dashboard layouts, so explore those options for some inspiration.
You can use colors to your advantage within dashboard design through the Color Rules in Domo’s Analyzer tool. With Color Rules, you can set columns to display in cards as a certain color or even change color depending on certain set conditions. Using consistent colors throughout the page can show connections between cards, such as using the same blue for a column that is used in multiple places. Bright colors can be used to call attention to important highlights, or you can set values that dip below a certain threshold to be red while values that are above the threshold show as green. Get creative with it!
Review and Revise
Domo is an iterative process, which brings us to the ‘final’ step in dashboard building – review and revise. You should have the end users’ feedback through every step in this process, but sometimes what we think we need isn’t always what we actually need. Schedule a review with end users a month or so after you’re done with the dashboard to review their usage. Ask which cards they use most, which cards they don’t use at all, and if anything is missing and adjust as needed. This is a really important step to ensure the page you built will continue to be useful in the long term.
RXA is a Domo consulting partner, and we help clients tell a story with their Domo data. If you need help connecting to data, building cards, or telling a story, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://rxa.io/contact today!