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Community Contribution

Building a Great Data Dashboard: An Example from Vietnam

Dec 08, 2023
Linh Doan, Thao Dinh - USAID Learns

Dashboards are powerful tools for presenting data and communicating insights to your team and stakeholders. A great dashboard is not only about choosing the right platform or tool, but also about following the principles of effective data visualization and user experience design. A well-designed dashboard that is clean and unbiased can help users explore, analyze and draw insights from the data more easily. To help you help you use visuals effectively to communicate and tell the data's stories, USAID Learns has developed a data visualization checklist (available in Vietnamese and English)

In this blog post, we will give you some advice on how to design and build a great dashboard, using an example from USAID Learns support for a USAID/Vietnam partner who improved their dashboard. The data has been changed to safeguard the confidentiality of the activity data. 

We examined the original dashboard and identified some areas for improvement. With some simple changes, the dashboard becomes much more visually appealing and informative. 


Original dashboard table with design, presented data and visualization types listed out

Figure 1: Original dashboard 

Original dashboard with figures

Figure 2: Revised dashboard (Please note that the data in the original version may not match the revised version because the dashboard is updated periodically) 

New dashboard with figures


So, our key takeaways from this case are: 

  • Keep the design simple and clean. Remove any unnecessary or distracting elements that do not convey data. 
  • Choose the right visualization type. To select an effective visualization type, you need to understand the data and especially the visual function. What do you want to show: percentage, part-to-whole, comparison or trend? Then choose the type of chart that best suits your purpose. We suggest using the chart chooser tool, but most of the time, simple and user-friendly charts like bar, line or pie work well. 
  • Group your related metrics - make them easy to locate.  
  • Highlight key features that attract your audience's attention and curiosity to explore your data. 
  • Use clear labels for your audience - make them short and clear. 
  • Don't do it by yourself. Ask for feedback from your team, keep them involved, engaged and revise any points that are not clear or accessible. 

And be sure to check out our data visualization checklist (VN and EN) to help you create better visuals for your data users! 

About the authors
Linh Doan profile picture
Linh Doan

Linh is a facilitator and knowledge management specialist at Learns. Linh has 8 years of working experience with multiple stakeholders in various sectors. She holds a master's degree in Natural Resources Management at Cologne University of Applied Sciences. Linh has strong visualization skills that help her communicate complex data and information in a clear and engaging way. 

Thao Dinh's profile picture
Thao Dinh

Thao is the Capacity Building Director at USAID Learns, based in Vietnam. Thao has worked in international development for 15 years, mostly in education, skills development and project management. She holds a master's degree in Economics Expertise and International Project Management. Her field of work aims to strengthen capacity for individuals and organizations mainly in Vietnam and ASEAN region through facilitation, co-creation, career development and trainings.