The 10 Golden Rules of Excel Dashboard Design

Are you looking for tips and tricks to design the perfect Excel dashboard? If so, then you’re in the right place! In this blog post, we’ll discuss the 10 golden rules of Excel dashboard design. We’ll also look at some design principles that can help you create the most effective and impactful dashboards. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to create highly organized and visually appealing dashboards that will get you the results you need. So, let’s dive in and explore the 10 golden rules of Excel dashboard design!

1) Keep it Simple
The most important rule of Excel Dashboard Design is to keep it simple. Complex dashboards can be overwhelming for users, and if too much information is presented at once it can be difficult for the user to make sense of it all. This is why it’s important to create an Excel Dashboard that is easy to understand and navigate.

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The best way to accomplish this is by limiting the amount of data being displayed, sticking to a few key metrics, and utilizing formatting and design principles that emphasize clarity and simplicity. This means using the right color palette, font, line weight, and overall layout. You should also keep the size of your Excel Dashboard in mind; the larger it is, the more difficult it will be for users to take in all the information.
Excel Dashboards are often used to display a lot of data in a clear and concise way, but it’s important not to overcomplicate things. By following the golden rule of keeping it simple, you can ensure that your dashboard remains easy to read and comprehend.

2) One Message per Page
When it comes to designing an effective Excel dashboard, the golden rule is to have one message per page. This means that each page should focus on a single topic or story and should not include any unrelated information. This will help ensure that users can quickly understand the point of the dashboard and its main message. It also helps keep the dashboard from becoming cluttered with too many items.
When creating an Excel dashboard, it’s important to consider the size of the dashboard and how much space is available for each item. The size of the dashboard should be proportional to the amount of data you are presenting. If there are too many items on a single page, the visual appeal of the dashboard is compromised and it becomes difficult to make sense of the data.


To keep your dashboard organized, it’s important to establish a hierarchy between different elements. For example, highlight key numbers or charts in a bold font to draw attention to them. Use titles and labels to clearly indicate what each item represents.
It’s also important to use appropriate visuals and colours to enhance the appearance of your dashboard. Use visuals such as graphs and charts to help illustrate data points clearly. Use colours to indicate positive or negative changes in the data or call out important information.
By following these simple rules, you can create a visually appealing Excel dashboard that is easy to understand and navigate.

3) Include Only Relevant Data
When designing an Excel Dashboard, it is important to remember that less is more. You don’t want to include too much information that will overwhelm the user. You should focus on what matters most and leave out any irrelevant data.
One way to do this is to be intentional with the data you include in your dashboard. Ask yourself what specific insights you need to communicate and make sure that only those pieces of data are included in the dashboard. Also, make sure that any visuals that you include are relevant and organized properly.
It is also important to avoid duplicating data. This could lead to confusion for the user and detract from the overall design. Instead, use unique visuals to tell a story or present data in a clear way. For example, instead of showing the same data in both a graph and a table, choose one or the other.
Overall, when designing an Excel Dashboard, it is essential to include only relevant data. Doing so will make it easier for users to understand and digest the data quickly, as well as keep your dashboard from becoming cluttered. By following these guidelines, you can create an effective dashboard that communicates key insights effectively.

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4) Use Visualizations Sparingly
When it comes to Excel dashboards, it is important to remember the importance of moderation. Visualizations are essential for communicating data quickly and effectively, but if you use too many in a dashboard it can be overwhelming for the viewer. It is better to focus on the most important data points and make sure that each visualization serves a purpose.
One of the main goals of a dashboard is to present information in a concise way, so it is best to use as few visualizations as possible to avoid clutter and confusion. Furthermore, when creating an Excel dashboard, it is important to choose the right type of visualization for the data being presented. Some types of visualizations such as pie charts are not always the best choice and can often be misleading.
When designing an Excel dashboard, it is important to remember to use visualizations sparingly and only include the ones that are necessary to convey the desired message. This will ensure that your dashboard looks clean, professional, and easy to interpret.

5) Stick to a Consistent Layout
When designing an Excel dashboard, it is important to stick to a consistent layout. This means making sure all of the elements of the dashboard have the same size and placement, as well as a consistent color scheme and font choice. Doing this will give your dashboard a more polished look and make it easier to interpret and analyze.

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The first rule of thumb when it comes to dashboard layout is to give each component its own dedicated space. All of the visuals should be placed in the same area, while other elements such as labels, headings, and navigation should all be grouped together. Doing this will help create a clear visual hierarchy that makes it easier for users to quickly identify and find the information they need.
Another way to ensure a consistent layout is to use grids and guides. When placing visuals on the dashboard, it’s important to make sure they are aligned properly. By using grids and guides, you can easily position elements in the correct place, ensuring a cohesive look and feel throughout the dashboard.
Finally, consider using a template or theme for your dashboard. By using a predefined design, you can ensure a consistent look and feel across all the components. Not only will this give your dashboard a more professional appearance, but it will also save time when creating future dashboards.

6) Use Clear and Concise Labels
Creating an effective Excel dashboard requires following a few key design principles. One of the most important principles is the use of clear and concise labels. Poorly labeled data can lead to misinterpretation, wasted time and confusion.
Using clear and concise labels can help you communicate your message quickly and efficiently. Here are 10 golden rules to follow when labeling your Excel dashboards:

  1. Be specific – Use labels that clearly identify the data being presented and don’t be afraid to use long labels if necessary.
  2. Keep it simple – Avoid using jargon or complex language that could confuse the reader.
  3. Use consistent language – Make sure all labels use the same terms for similar items and avoid using synonyms that could cause confusion.
  4. Break down big numbers – Provide context by breaking down large numbers into smaller, easier-to-understand pieces.
  5. Avoid abbreviations – Unless you are certain everyone who will view your dashboard knows the abbreviation, it’s best to spell out words in full.
  6. Check your spelling – Nothing kills credibility faster than spelling mistakes or typos in your labels.
  7. Make it readable – Use a font size that is easily legible from a distance and bold text to emphasize important points.
  8. Identify outliers – Labels should clearly indicate if a number is an outlier or if it deviates from the average.
  9. Keep it brief – Use as few words as possible without sacrificing clarity and accuracy.
  10. Don’t overdo it – Avoid adding too much text to labels as this can make them difficult to read.
    Following these 10 golden rules can help ensure your Excel dashboard conveys your message accurately and clearly to its intended audience.

7) Use Complementary Colors
When creating an Excel dashboard, it is important to use complementary colors. Complementary colors are two colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel and create a pleasing visual balance. For example, purple and yellow, blue and orange, and green and red are all complementary color combinations. Using complementary colors allows the dashboard user to quickly identify trends or changes in data.
In addition to creating a visually appealing dashboard, using complementary colors can also make the dashboard easier to read. This is because the contrasting colors will draw the viewer’s attention to the most important information on the dashboard. If there are too many similar colors used in a dashboard, it can become difficult to discern between various elements, making the dashboard less useful.
When choosing complementary colors for an Excel dashboard, it is important to take into consideration the type of data being displayed. For example, if the dashboard is displaying financial data, you may want to use shades of blues and greens as those colors typically evoke a feeling of trustworthiness. If the dashboard is displaying sports data, you may want to use more vibrant colors such as yellows and oranges.
By taking time to choose complementary colors for an Excel dashboard, you will ensure that your dashboard looks great and conveys important information effectively.

8) Avoid Distracting Animations
Animations are great for making things look visually appealing and dynamic, but when it comes to Excel dashboards, it’s best to avoid them. Animations can distract from the data and make it hard to follow. Not only that, but they can also slow down the loading time of the dashboard, making it a tedious experience for the viewer.
There are certain times where animations may be necessary, such as transitioning between slides or highlighting important information, but for the most part, it’s best to keep it simple. Animations should never be overused or used for purely aesthetic purposes. Instead, focus on creating a dashboard that is easy to read and navigate without distracting elements.
By avoiding distracting animations, you will ensure that your dashboard conveys the data in a clear and concise manner, while still being visually appealing.