Why do you hate Gauges, Dials and Speedometers?

Recently, on a full moon night, a dashboard gauge appeared in my dream and made a plea which I have tried to put it back using my paint utility. The gauge was certainly sad and this post is to highlight the gauge emotions, nothing personal 🙂

Lot of Visualization Experts, (to name some, Stephen Few, Jon Peltier , Charley Kyd ) despise the fancy Dials and Gauges.

Their main argument is

“Gauges waste valuable screen real-estate”

But the alternative they suggest is usually “Black and white” and “bullet graphs” all around the places. Not questioning if it is useful or not, but definitely boring and distasteful!

If you were running a retail store or a coffee shop, you would atleast want an aesthetically pleasant appearance and less of “clutter”, right?

Then why choose to clutter-your-Dashboard ?

IMHO, A dashboard is an application, very similar to any website or the ERP or CRM package that you probably using on a day to day basis. Why would you choose to not make it beautiful, atleast for selling the concept to your upper management?

So Where do Gauges really help?

I stumbled across this article about Visual Merchandising for Business Intelligence.

Visual merchandising, primarily and most notably a retail term, is the art of optimising the presentation of a product or service in order to stimulate sales.

A retailer is looking to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for customers by stimulating consumer senses through a variety of mechanisms at its disposal. The benefits are increased foot-fall, positive word-of-mouth promotion, and a returning customer base which all contribute towards improved sales and profitability over an extended term.

This same principle can be applied to dashboards and reporting to assure the success of a business intelligence (BI) implementation. Dashboards and reports are the shop-window and the sales floor into the BI solution as a whole.

ImageGauges definitely help sell the concept of dashboards to upper management and they definitely help Dashboard vendors sell their products. So the bottom line is, even though you may have best visual representation alternatives, Gauges are here to stay. There is no point fighting it.





One suggestion to the experts is to keep doing what you do and let the vendors incorporate Gauges and bullet graphs as part of their toolset. The user needs to get educated through your blogs about the best visualization methods and let them choose how they will be more productive and derive better intelligence about their operations.

What is your take on Gauges? Do you love to hate them or Do you love to keep them?



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