Working on a project can result in a complex folder structure that may be difficult to navigate. Easy file access is crucial, not only in the design and build phases of a project, but during handover and facilities management as well. Whichever phase your project is currently in, digital dashboards can improve project efficiency for your team.
What is a Digital Dashboard?
A digital dashboard is an interactive PDF that includes links to project documents for easy access. They include a home page with top-level links and a series of sub-pages with more focused links.
This is an example of a dashboard’s home page. It contains links created in Revu that connect to project documents. Since dashboards are built by Revu users, they can be designed for an owner, design team, facilities manager, or whoever might need access to project files. This particular dashboard has links to project drawings, manuals, schedules, submittals and other relevant information.
How to make a Digital Dashboard
To build your digital dashboard, it’s best to start with the end in mind. Ask yourself, who will be using the digital dashboard most? If the answer is the owner, an all-encompassing dashboard might be best. If the answer is the facilities manager, then links to warranty information and maintenance manuals might be more relevant.
Create a layout in PowerPoint
While there are countless ways to build a digital dashboard, many users prefer Microsoft PowerPoint due to its SmartArt tool. The SmartArt tool provides visually appealing graphics with a text overlay that can be quickly edited.
Follow these steps to create a dashboard layout in PowerPoint:
- Open a new slide in PowerPoint.
Do you have company-approved PowerPoint or presentation slides? You can use those to maintain your brand guidelines.
- Go to Insert > SmartArt.
- Select a SmartArt graphic and click OK.
- In the [Text] fields, enter the button names that will be on your dashboard. These will be your links.
- When you have finished designing your dashboard, save the file as a PDF.
If you have the Bluebeam Plugin installed, go to the Home menu in PowerPoint and click Create PDF. The file should save as a PDF and automatically open in Revu.
Add hyperlinks in Revu
Make sure your PDF layout is open in Revu. Then, follow these steps to add a hyperlinks:
- Go to Tools > Hyperlink (Shift + H)
- With the crosshair cursor, click and drag a box around the area that you would like your users to click on (this will be the button). The Action dialog will appear when you release.
- From the Action dialog, you can choose to create a link to another location in your document, a locally stored file, or to a website. Once you’ve made your selections, click Ok to activate your link.
You can see your hyperlink by hovering your cursor over the link you’ve made.
- Repeat this process for each of the buttons on your dashboard.
All links should be fully functional and maintain their original appearance.
Take your Digital Dashboard to the next level
While the main goal of digital dashboard is to facilitate file access, you can follow these tips to maximize usability and make your dashboard more user-friendly.
Create a positive user experience
Make your digital dashboard easy to use with visually appealing buttons, intuitive icons, and clear fonts. The dashboard examples pictured above display their branded color palettes, images, and icons for an intuitive experience.
Add a home icon
If your dashboard has multiple pages, you should consider placing a home link on each page. This allows for quick navigation to top-level links in case the user needs to backtrack.
Keep structure in mind
When making a digital dashboard, it’s a good idea to add links that move from general to specific. Also, remember to keep a consistent folder structure and naming convention for your files.
Avoid broken links
Since digital dashboards can be used for years, it’s a good idea to double-check your links. Are your project files constantly being updated or replaced with the latest versions? Create links to a folder that contains the files, rather than to the files themselves, to ensure the links always work. Also, avoid linking to local files on your computer, since users won’t be able to open them.
Set project folder permissions
If you are linking to files in Bluebeam Studio, make sure you set project folder permissions for the dashboard users.