Dashboard Development and Design Thinking

Developing a dashboard is not a straightforward process – there are a lot of decisions to be made and these often depend on one another. Information and understanding increase as part of the development process which also affect our design choices. It is not a linear process either – we often go back, revisit and make changes before the product is completed and signed-off. Iteration is just part of it.

So what is the dashboard development process like then?

I have been a role where I have been using Tableau to deliver insight since 2015 and I still cannot synthesise the dashboard development process in just a few words. I was first introduced to Design Thinking and the Double Diamond approach at a #MidlandsTUG in 2016. I remember watching a presentation by Clare Foyle, one of my managers at the time. I found her presentation interesting, with the notion of diverging and converging stages resonating strongly with me.

Double-Diamond (Kaichin Chu).jpg

Over the last month or so I have been working on putting together a set of best practice and guidance for dashboard development within my organisation. In the process of trying to explain how the dashboard design process works and what we should not forget to think about as part of it, I remembered Clare’s presentation and this is when I decided that where words struggle to convey the message, perhaps a diagram with questions will help better. So I came up with the following adaptation of applying the double diamond approach into the dashboard design process, which helped me express my thoughts a lot more easily.

The Dashboard Design Process.jpg

Full Image in pdf format: The Dashboard Design Process

Some Q&As

Tell me a bit more about the context…

In my department there are members of the team who focus a lot on gathering requirements and developing the end product (e.g. a Tableau dashboard or a workbook) using data sources that are largely available. They also do a bit of data manipulation as and when required.

There are also members of the team whose primary focus is on developing core data sets that can be used for analysis and insight. They also sometimes deliver smaller scale dashboards. We also sometimes pick up another person’s work when it comes to updating and re-launching a dashboard.

Therefore, I built this diagram to help my colleagues (and myself) remember what questions can be useful to address as part of a dashboard design project. This also explains why there is little focus on data exploration, gather and manipulation.

Why so many questions?

I have used questions because I think that these are more helpful to the developer than simply saying: ‘this should be done either in this way or in that way’. The list is not exhaustive and I am sure when I come to present my work in a few-week’s time, I will have some more to add.

Where is the ‘double-diamond’ in your diagram?

The diagram doesn’t look like a double-diamond because I simply struggled with space.

I have never heard of the mop-up stage?

That’s OK because it is not really part of the Double Diamond Design process. It was my addition to the adaption as the final stage is often overlooked due to time constraints, excitement of the finished product, etc. but in my view, it is just as important as all the other steps as part of the design process.

How can I find out more about Design Thinking?

Have a look at this link:

What are you going to do with this diagram?

As I mentioned, it will likely undergo some changes but the concept will be presented to colleagues and members of staff new to dashboard development at my institution.

I am also planning on developing a quick checklist as a resource that perhaps can be incorporated as part of a dashboard that is a summarised version of this diagram.

Thank you for reading!


P.S. What questions do you ask yourself when developing a dashboard?


2 thoughts on “Dashboard Development and Design Thinking

  1. Hi Elena, I really like how you’ve tried to include the double diamond of design into dashboard development but I think it is possible to include the mop up into the diagram. I’ll try to draw it out and share it with you.


    1. I’d love to see how you would incorporate the last stage into the diagram, Clare. And thank you for inspiring me a while ago to think about dashboard design thinking.


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