Filter Avalanche: Is Your Dashboard Suffocating Users?

dashboard performance user experience

Let's focus on one of the most popular ways to sabotage your dashboard: filters!

Use personas to better understand users.

Using personas is a method I've stolen from UX Design and use on each dashboard for 2 years now. 

What are the key benefits?

1 - Understanding the audience: personas help designers and stakeholders to better understand the target audience by creating fictional representations of typical users.
This understanding includes their needs, goals, behaviors, preferences and difficulties.

2 - Design guidance: Personas guide design decisions by enabling designers to prioritize features, functionality and content according to the needs and preferences of specific user groups.
This makes sure that the design actually meets the most critical user requirements.

3 - Communication and empathy: personas facilitate communication and empathy between team members by providing a common understanding of the target audience.
They humanize users and enable all those involved in the design process to better understand and defend their needs.

Before/After personas

When the purpose is unclear, filters step in to fill the void.

A dashboard must always have a purpose that should :

  • Be clear, concise and precise 
  • Be known by all stakeholders
  • Be aligned with the strategy
  • Address the specific needs and difficulties of users

Upstream your filters for better performance

In my experience, 40 to 80% of the fields included in your dashboarding tool are not used.

This is a problem for several reasons:

  • This data interferes with the clarity and efficiency of the development work
  • It reveals a lack of discernment in the scope of action
  • It slows down overall dashboard performance
  • They make upgrades and maintenance more complex

Pick your filtering mechanism

Depending on the audience and the need, you'll need to adapt the way users interact with filters.

By default, everyone wants filters, and often lots of them! Ask yourself why users want these filters.

  • Is it because they're used to spreadsheet?
  • Is it because they don't trust data quality?
  • Is it because they think it's the only way to interact with data?
  • Are they aware of the impact this will have on dashboard responsiveness?

This decision tree will help you decide which type of interaction to provide.

- - -


There are 3 ways I can help you:

1 - Unlock The Dashboard Assessment training course and template to help you develop great dashboards that users love

2 - Get your lifetime access to my gallery and learn The Fundamentals of Data Visualization in 40+ minimalist visuals.

3 - The Dashboard Interview Guide will help you ask better questions before diving into your dashboard development.