8 useful tools to assist in creating dashboards like the pros

creating dashboards

On this blog, I would like to open my treasure chest and expose some of the tools that dashboard designers use to build prototypes. Well… that I use, at any rate!

I use these tools in a variety of way across our own dashboard development cycle here are agileDSS. These tools are sometimes freeware, or incur a cost. At any rate here are some of my favorite tools, please feel free to chime in with your own!

Axure RP (www.axure.com) about 600$

This tool is up there amongst the industry’s top software’s. It is a rapid prototyping tool that is geared mainly at web designers and GUI oriented professionals, including the Mobile & Tablet crowd. I used it as the canvas on which to illustrate my collage of ideas. Be it a drawing or a high fidelity rendering, it has a bunch of functionality and I especially like its ability to add code and generate live, running prototypes. Did I mention it can create its own documentation?

Pixie (http://www.nattyware.com) Freeware

Pixie is a simple widget that acts as a color picker. It is perfect to hover above the clients graphical guidelines and rapidly fetch those elusive RGB/CMYK codes!

Color Scheme Designer (http://colorschemedesigner.com/) Free online resource

This simple yet intuitive website is very useful to get additional colors for data series or other tertiary graphical elements. For those of us who a color challenged, it is a sure fire way to complete the color palette of you dashboard project. .. and yes, you can use it to match your tie with that new shirt ; )

SOAP UI (www.soapui.org)

Functional testing has come a long way with the advent of SOAPUI.  It is a cross-platform functional testing software for web services. Featuring a easy to understand GUI, SOAPUI can be used to test the performance of your web services. Where do we use this? With BusinessObjects, this tool is a great way to test a web service architecture based on QaaWs andBI Web Services.

Google Image (www.google.com)

Universally known image repository. Enough said. Just be mindful of copyrighted material. It’s not because its there that its free! It this case, do NOT follow rule #24

SnagIt (http://www.softwarecasa.com)  50$ or PicPick (http://www.picpick.org/) free for personal use

Screenshot grabbing tool. It is very useful to capture parts of images and even capturing video to showcase the UX of the mock-up. Be mindful that some reported spyware on the later versions of Picpick, so you should do some due diligence before installing. In fact, any good and simple screen capture tool would do.

Xcelsius 2008 / Dashboard Design 4.0 (SAP Marketplace)

Why not use the dashboard tool itself? Xcelsius is a perfect candidate to showcase key ideas and UI concepts. The trick is to use a disconnected version with mocked up data to speed up the process, and not get tied down in creating full blown UX logic behind the scenes. I especially like to use it to focus on doing a mock-up of a specifying control or chart.

Whiteboards, Pens & Paper

The oldest tools remain the most robust, they are a great way to brainstorm ideas and focus on the UX and UI instead of the color shades and alignment. They are mostly used early on in the process as they are a great way to rapidly iterate through ideas at lost cost to the client.

Happy visualisations!

About us

agileDSS is a “BI Centre of excellence” combining expert consulting, best technologies and innovative solutions in order to accompany our clients toward a target of growth and continuous evolution

Contact us

agileDSS Inc.
407, McGill street, Suite 501
Montréal (QC) H2Y 2G3
Phone: 1-888-926-1272

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