Tips on Dashboard Design
Here are some tips on dashboard design based on the work of the industry experts Stephen Few and Edward Tufte.
The key challenge is to squeeze a great deal of information into a small space, yet keep the display easy to understand.
- Try to avoid having to scroll or switch between multiple screens. Ideally you want to see everything at once.
- Everyone who thinks abut designing a dashboards wants guage or gages or dials. Firstly they use up a great deal of space. Simple text tables use less space and can carry more information.
- Colouring the gauge show good or bad performance is common, but often it does not tell us how bad or how good.
- Also gauges do not give any indication of the trend. Is it getting better or worse. It only gives you a spot reading.
- Do not put excessive detail or precision e.g. showing numbers to many decimal places or displaying very large numbers that can be reduced. e.g. 34,565,434 to 34.5M.
- Chose measures that really shows the change or variation readily. Think about calculating for example the percentage change between the actual and the budget rather than plotting both on a graph.
- Do not overuse colour. You do not want a Christmas tree but just the data or information to be conveyed.
- Edward Tufte talks about the 'Data to Ink' ratio. Do not put unecessary ink on the the page. For example grid lines on graphs, dials, logos etc.
- Layout the dashboard logically. For example show the yearly trend first, then the monthly trend this year and then the daily trend. Make it easy for managers to assimilate the information rapidly and correctly.
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