Information Dashboard Design

book cover
Information Dashboard Design
By Stephen Few
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pub Date: January 2006
ISBN: 0-596-10016-7
Pages: 223

Table of Contents  | Index

Dashboards have become popular in recent years as uniquely powerful tools for communicating important information at a glance. Although dashboards are potentially powerful, this potential is rarely realized. The greatest display technology in the world won't solve this if you fail to use effective visual design. And if a dashboard fails to tell you precisely what you need to know in an instant, you'll never use it, even if it's filled with cute gauges, meters, and traffic lights. Don't let your investment in dashboard technology go to waste.

This book will teach you the visual design skills you need to create dashboards that communicate clearly, rapidly, and compellingly. Information Dashboard Design will explain how to:

  • Avoid the thirteen mistakes common to dashboard design

  • Provide viewers with the information they need quickly and clearly

  • Apply what we now know about visual perception to the visual presentation of information

  • Minimize distractions, cliches, and unnecessary embellishments that create confusion

  • Organize business information to support meaning and usability

  • Create an aesthetically pleasing viewing experience

  • Maintain consistency of design to provide accurate interpretation

  • Optimize the power of dashboard technology by pairing it with visual effectiveness

Stephen Few has over 20 years of experience as an IT innovator, consultant, and educator. As Principal of the consultancy Perceptual Edge, Stephen focuses on data visualization for analyzing and communicating quantitative business information. He provides consulting and training services, speaks frequently at conferences, and teaches in the
MBA program at the University of California in Berkeley. He is also the author of Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten. Visit his website at

book cover
Information Dashboard Design
By Stephen Few
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pub Date: January 2006
ISBN: 0-596-10016-7
Pages: 223

Table of Contents  | Index

   About the Author
        Chapter 1.  Clarifying the Vision
      Section 1.1.  All That Glitters Is Not Gold
      Section 1.2.  Even Dashboards Have a History
      Section 1.3.  Dispelling the Confusion
      Section 1.4.  A Timely Opportunity
        Chapter 2.  Variations in Dashboard Uses and Data
      Section 2.1.  Categorizing Dashboards
      Section 2.2.  Typical Dashboard Data
        Chapter 3.  Thirteen Common Mistakes in Dashboard Design
      Section 3.1.  Exceeding the Boundaries of a Single Screen
      Section 3.2.  Supplying Inadequate Context for the Data
      Section 3.3.  Displaying Excessive Detail or Precision
      Section 3.4.  Choosing a Deficient Measure
      Section 3.5.  Choosing Inappropriate Display Media
      Section 3.6.  Introducing Meaningless Variety
      Section 3.7.  Using Poorly Designed Display Media
      Section 3.8.  Encoding Quantitative Data Inaccurately
      Section 3.9.  Arranging the Data Poorly
      Section 3.10.  Highlighting Important Data Ineffectively or Not at All
      Section 3.11.  Cluttering the Display with Useless Decoration
      Section 3.12.  Misusing or Overusing Color
      Section 3.13.  Designing an Unattractive Visual Display
        Chapter 4.  Tapping into the Power of Visual Perception
      Section 4.1.  Understanding the Limits of Short-Term Memory
      Section 4.2.  Visually Encoding Data for Rapid Perception
      Section 4.3.  Gestalt Principles of Visual Perception
      Section 4.4.  Applying the Principles of Visual Perception to Dashboard Design
        Chapter 5.  Eloquence Through Simplicity
      Section 5.1.  Characteristics of a Well-Designed Dashboard
      Section 5.2.  Key Goals in the Visual Design Process
        Chapter 6.  Effective Dashboard Display Media
      Section 6.1.  Select the Best Display Medium
      Section 6.2.  An Ideal Library of Dashboard Display Media
      Section 6.3.  Summary
        Chapter 7.  Designing Dashboards for Usability
      Section 7.1.  Organize the Information to Support Its Meaning and Use
      Section 7.2.  Maintain Consistency for Quick and Accurate Interpretation
      Section 7.3.  Make the Viewing Experience Aesthetically Pleasing
      Section 7.4.  Design for Use as a Launch Pad
      Section 7.5.  Test Your Design for Usability
        Chapter 8.  Putting It All Together
      Section 8.1.  Sample Sales Dashboard
      Section 8.2.  Sample CIO Dashboard
      Section 8.3.  Sample Telesales Dashboard
      Section 8.4.  Sample Marketing Analysis Dashboard
      Section 8.5.  A Final Word
        Appendix A.  Recommended Reading