Bad Dashboard Design

As Stephen Few points out in this critical analysis of an Oracle Dashboard, here are the points to remember.

Don’t just throw your resources, assemble the data sources to put together a dashboard, Paint them in un-necessary 3-D graphics and Glassy gradients.


Some quick analysis summary

  • All of the graphs use 3D to encode 2-D data. The third dimension adds no value but does succeed in making the values harder to decode.
  • Neither display is sufficiently data-rich. In creating a dashboard, it’s important to put all of information that people might want to compare together on a single screen. Even when people probably won’t compare values, it’s easier and more efficient for them to work with a well-designed single page than it is to work with multiple data-sparse screens. The size of the graphs alone—giant pies and single bars that take up a quarter of the screen—indicates that much more information could have be included on the display. It’s likely that, given a proper layout, multiple screens would not even have been necessary.
  • The borders between graphs are unnecessarily salient, which makes it more difficult to track between them to make comparisons.
  • All of the tick marks used are redundant; they are not necessary when gridlines are used.