Sunday, June 26, 2011

Planning visually appealing dashboard using MS BI

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The notion of developing something that is very visually appealing is so much ingrained into the minds of business stakeholders and professionals, that whatever technology that provides fancy, animating, and colorful visuals, they develop an image that its the technology of choice to develop visually appealing dashboards. There are several points to consider, while planning to develop a visually appealing dashboard. Below are few points which are very important to consider when you plan to develop a visually appealing dashboard using MS BI and Sharepoint BI.

1) Visually appealing is a subjective measurement, so the design should be developed keeping the end users in mind. There is a difference between a visually appealing website design and visually appealing dashboard design. Keep in mind that websites might be meant to capture data whereas dashboards always report data.

2) Consider controlling the level of fanciness on your dashboard, as the intention of dashboard is to make the user concentrate on data and facilitate the user to visually and effortlessly analyze data. Too much fanciness like animations, too much colors, etc would take distract users attention from data and might even confuse the user.

3) You might have seen MS BI VPC and got impressed with the visuals of Excel Services, Performancepoint Services and other elements. But do not get carried away but just what you see. Consider studying the inventory of features that these technologies provide and map it against your requirements.

4) Do not base your POCs or analysis based on easy data sources like XML files, Tabular data or Sharepoint lists. Mostly data flows from an OLAP model into dashboards (at least in tactical or strategic flavors).

5) Consider studying the architecture of the technology before selecting it for your visually appealing wonder. You might create a POC and find that data from one spreadsheet displays data well with excel web parts and when you need context-sensitive and user role and privilege specific data, the model might fall apart.

6) In the dashboard parlance, visually appealing would mean analyzing data interactively like drilling, slicing-dicing etc and other form of visually appealing would be data analysis using visualizations and info-graphics.

You do not hire a fashion designer to design the interiors of your home, to make it pleasing to the eyes. In the same way, theory of making a visually appealing website cannot be applied to develop a visually appealing dashboard.

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