Matrix reports are a powerful way to present data that can be categorized by both rows and columns. When executed well, they give users a comprehensive, yet digestible, snapshot of the data in question. However, when crafted haphazardly, they can confuse more than clarify.
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned app builder looking to refine your skills, here are some best practices to keep in mind when creating a matrix report:
Define Your Objective
- Before diving in, clearly articulate the purpose of the report. What questions do you want to answer? Who is your audience? Having a clear goal will guide your design choices.
- Avoid the temptation of overloading your matrix with too many dimensions. While it might seem like more data is better, an overcrowded matrix can quickly become overwhelming. Prioritize the most crucial dimensions for your objectives.
- Ensure that your row and column headers are clear and consistently labelled. This helps avoid confusion and makes the report more intuitive.
Use Conditional Formatting
- Take advantage of conditional formatting to highlight specific data points, differences, or trends in your matrix. For instance, you can use multi-state fields (RAG or RAGBB) to indicate performance (red for underperformance, green for above targets).
- Consider the logical sequence when ordering rows and columns. Whether it's alphabetical, numerical, or based on performance, a logical sequence can greatly enhance readability.
Add Relevant Click-throughs
- Make sure to add a click-through report option for users who want to delve deeper into specific data points. This is specific for matrices that use a count cell type, using the field details type will drill directly into the record.
- Space is crucial in a matrix report. While it's tempting to include as much detail as possible, keep the design clean and simple. The focus should be on the data.
- If selecting the cell type field detail you are only able to select one field to have as the detail field. This can be limiting if you want to show data from multiple fields, a great way to include multiple data points is to concatenate them into one field and reference that field.
- To save space in your cells you can swap text out for more visual and shorter options, for example, classifying a record as Critical and be swapped for emojis like these 🔴❗⚠️. This also allows for quick identification at a glance.
Include a Legend
- If you're using colours, symbols, or any other form of representation, always include a legend to explain what each means. This can be placed in the sub-header and is a great way to help inform users
- Data changes. To ensure your matrix report remains relevant, set regular intervals for updates. If possible, automate this process with scheduled workflow to minimize the risk of outdated information.
- Before finalizing your matrix report, share a draft with a colleague or a member of your target audience. Their feedback can provide valuable insights into how intuitive and effective your report is.
- If your matrix report is going to be used by a broader team or over a longer period, consider creating a brief document explaining the report's purpose, sources of data, and how to interpret it.
- Mobile Optimization
- In today's world, many users might access your report from mobile devices. Ensure that your report is legible and looks good on smaller screens.
Creating an effective matrix report is both an art and a science. While the above best practices provide a roadmap, always be open to iterating and improving based on the unique needs of your audience and the insights you wish to convey.
Do you have any go-to tips or tricks for matrix reports? Share them in the comments below!
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