Just like you can see the weather by looking out the window for .3 seconds, most of us have the wish to get a complete view of our data 'situation' with just a glance at our dashboard.
Making your own personal "hub" can be fun and problematic at the same time, depending on how open you are to compromise on this instantly "glanceable" vision of a dashboard.
In this guide we'll go through how to create your own personal dashboard, but focus specifically on your workplace apps. These are even harder to summarize conveniently than private apps, where any iPhone or Alexa does half a decent job these days.
Challenges with creating a personal work dashboard
Creating a "hub" is a dark art: what works for me, may not work for you. This is especially true at work, where two people can have highly specific needs towards the same information.
Broadly there are two key challenges:
1. Challenge of personalization (different views of the same data)
Let's consider you want to integrate a helpdesk app on your personal dashboard. A typical employee might want to view and answer support tickets, whereas their team leader needs to have an at-a-glance overview over everybody's tickets.
Same ticketing software, same customers, same cases... yet completely different needs
So if you consider making a rather simplistic list of the current tickets, that's going to help neither the agent nor the team lead. The agent doesn't care for all tickets as they simply want to see theirs, and the team lead wants to see how the team is responding to all tickets but isn't very interested in each case individually.
2. Challenge of customization (different preferences for consuming the same information)
Even if you imagine that you have two users with the same job title that use the same apps, then you can still get wildly different preferences for what each perceives to be the most helpful board to them.
If you have, say five, apps you want to display on your personal dashboard, then it's guaranteed that no two users will want to see the same density across all their apps.
Different preferences make it hard to find a balance between over and under-informing the user
To accommodate such a spectrum of preferences, a dashboard might use different UX elements, like offloading items into a notifications bin, or make sections on the board you can view at different times, etc.
But as any Nielsen Norman armchair expert (such as myself) knows, offering too many controls can risk users getting disoriented as they don't intuitively grasp why each UX element needs to exist. 🤔
That is the Catch-22 that makes it so deviously hard to create one-size-fits-all dashboards, and is probably the reason why 90% of digital workplaces ultimately fail.
You can read a detailed dissemination of what qualities of information you're dealing with at work over at the lovely consultants from Clearbox
Has Amazon stumbled upon a magic solution?
Amazon is joining the chat. Their crazy pace of launching devices produces some peculiar form factors, such as flying indoor cameras. 🛸📸
More recently you may have seen this 15" Echo device that you're supposed to mount on the wall. It's called Echo Show 15 and it aims to show you personal "widgets" like your calendar or smart home controls as a dashboard of sorts.
This captures the imagination of a lot of people that try to pursue a better way to organize their information. Amazon has done some nice work at striking a balance between things you want to monitor (calendar, to do list, delivery updates), discover (recipes, news) and act upon (order things off Amazon, naturally 😉).
Can I get an assistant like Alexa but for my work apps?
In a nutshell, yes.
A product like Digital Assistant offers you a Board where you can place your personal "widgets". Except these widgets are specifically designed for business use cases and they're called "Cards". Cards give you a great experience out of the box, but can be further edited to match up with your specific viewing needs.
Personal dashboard showing news, approvals, ticket status, charts and server status (example)
In fact, you can play around with popular Card templates businesses can use for free to create custom personal dashboards for users.
Once that personal dashboard is in place you can freely customize the experience by:
Placing Cards freely
Since this is your personal dashboard, you – and you alone – can decide where Cards should go and how large they should be. Just drag and drop them to your liking
Managing how "much" you want to see each Card
Do you have those "in-between apps" where you don't want to see them constantly on your personal dashboard, but you also don't want to miss out when something does happen? Then offload a Card off of your Board and just subscribe to its notifications. Notifications get collected in a separate sidebar where you can get a summary view before opening up the complete Card.
How do I add apps to my personal dashboard?
It's super simple to add those apps to your personal dashboard that you already have, with a growing selection available in the App Directory. Why not have a look at popular starter apps for the Digital Assistant's Board.
Let's say you want to add the Hubspot app to your personal dashboard, then just go over to the Hubspot listing in the App Directory and hit Install now.
Then you just select the Cards you wish to add to your Board and hit Continue. In the next step you can add additional scopes, but this can be skipped by pressing Next step.
And 1-2-3 Hubspot is added to your personal dashboard.
All you have to do now is open your personal Board and hit the Authorize button to connect the Assistant to your Hubspot account.
Once you're done going through the login procedure in Hubspot you'll be directed back to your Board where the Cards now start showing your real data from Hubspot.
Now it's just a matter of adding all the other apps you use for work one-by-one until your Board is starting to feel like your personal mission control center.
Does this also work with the Echo Show?
Mostly yes, but there's one big no.
I'll start with the good stuff. You can simply add Digital Assistant to your Alexa and you ask it bring up any Card from your Board using just your voice. Alexa will read Cards out, or show them on the screen of your Echo device.
You can even view your Board on Echo Show devices by using the built-in browser to open your personal Board at https://app.adenin.com.
However, Amazon hasn't yet allowed publishing 3rd party widgets to the Alexa, so you won't be able to pin your Cards persistently on the cool new homescreen of the Echo Show 15. (Don't like it? Don't tell me, tell Amazon 😉)
So is this for large organizations or can I use this for my work?
In most of the marketing jargon the Assistant is going back and forth between making Cards for your team, but also showing you your personalized content. That's because we serve both ends of the spectrum:
Large enterprises with dedicated cross-department teams that roll out Digital Assistant to the entire organization (usually using some in-house branding)
Medium-sized companies or departments that just want to create a no-frills Board for a specific function or to consolidate a bunch of applications into one UI
Individuals, either self-employed or working in an organization, that need to find a better way to organize all the different tabs in a way that gives them a nice and easy overview
Do you think you want to create a personal dashboard for your work apps after reading how easy it is to set it up? Then just sign in and get started for free
What other features do you want to see on your personal dashboard? Let me know in the comments below.