The Power of Simplicity: Our Quest for a User-Centric Dashboard

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A Focus on Data & Transparency

Just like the nutrition facts on the back of our oat milk, transparency is the powerhouse that keeps everything in check. Our Media + Insights Lead, Tegan Jenner, tells us all about how we redesigned our Google Data Studio (GDS) dashboards with a focus on data and transparency—the backbone of everything we do.

Transparency is a core value of Helen + Gertude, extending to our performance data. We’ve been providing dashboards with performance data for years as a way of letting clients peek behind the curtain at will and outside of predetermined reporting periods. But we realized that providing data wasn’t enough. Without narrowing the data focus, adding context, and pulling insights, providing less data-savvy users with heaps of data in a dashboard would be like gifting you a novel in a language you don’t read; you’re not going to understand the (data) story.

As a company that prides itself on bringing together creative-first thinkers (our “Helens”) with data-first thinkers (our “Gertrudes”), we know a professional team is going to have a spectrum of comfort levels when it comes to working with data. When it came time to revamp our performance dashboards to match our Helen + Gertrude rebrand, we decided to dive deep and evaluate not only the look of our dashboards but their functionality, accessibility, and data digestibility, too.

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Cross-functional Creativity to Bring Clarity 

To kick off our dashboard overhaul, we started by chatting with a sample of our creative team to hear their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of our current dashboards. We also talked to our client services teammates to see what clients thought of the dashboards. Two things became clear: 1) our original, densely packed dashboards were intimidating, and 2) people didn’t know what to do with the data in front of them.

We worked with our Art Director, MacKenzi Nelson, to create a revamped dashboard layout that gave the data room to breathe while adding thoughtful visual touches to help make the data easier to interpret. With this new creative touch, conditional color formatting indicates when you’re meeting or exceeding a performance benchmark. Accessibility was another priority. We increased font sizes, used stronger color contrast for readability, and implemented a scroll-style page layout for a more mobile-friendly user experience.

Now that the dashboard is fully branded and visually appealing, and everyone can use it, how did we ensure everyone can understand it? We added leading questions above each graph to give context on what types of questions could be answered using the data below (ex: “Which keywords are driving the most traffic on search?” above a graph showing performance by keyword). Most importantly, we added blurbs below each set of graphs with insights and contextual callouts provided by the Helen + Gertrude media team, highlighting the biggest takeaway from each data visualization.

With this transformation, we kicked our performance transparency process up several notches. We’ve pushed ourselves beyond delivering a cleaned-up, dusted-off version of our clients’ dashboards, instead refining and molding it into something elegant and usable.

Tegan's Tips For Crafting a Thoughtful Report

Tip 1: Data is only as good as the insights you can pull from it. A sexy, sleek graph may look impressive in a deck, but if you can’t interpret the data, it’s not helpful.

Tip 2: Know your audience. This helps you cater your jargon, level of detail, takeaways, and action items to make your report as relevant and understandable as possible.

Tip 3: Utilize report layout to increase digestibility. Sometimes, stylistic choices like bold-facing critical text, adding summary headlines, highlighting data points, etc., can make a huge difference when it comes to helping readers absorb the information within a report.

Tip 4: When it comes to wrapping up a report, ask yourself if you’ve answered the big “so what?” questions. Ex: So what does this mean for our strategy? What does this mean in terms of benchmarks? What should we do next?

Learn more about our sustainability and social impact initiatives in our 2023 Impact Report.

Tegan Jenner
Media + Insights Lead

Tegan Jenner is a data analyst with a creative side. When she isn't using her DIY skills to make updates to her home, she spends time baking, reading, and sewing. Her family, coworkers, and two miniature dachshunds reap the benefits of her crafty projects.

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