Dashboards can be used to communicate a dense collection of information efficiently on a single canvas. Your audience has a limited amount of time to monitor key metrics to get a quick status and identify anything that needs attention. The attention span of the average human has gone from about 12 seconds in 2000 (when mobile phones became mainstream) to about 8 seconds today – a second less than a goldfish – according to a 2015 study.
Following data visualization design principles is key to making your dashboard easily consumable. A poorly designed dashboard can make your eyes jump all over the screen. While it won’t give you much insight, it may cause a headache. In the Western world, we read from top left to right, then zig-zag down left and scroll right again (in a Z-pattern). Understanding where the audience’s eyes will start and travel next allows you to guide them through your dashboard.
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