Ten easy-to remember tips: Dashboards
Some useful advise about presenting business information in “dashboard” formats came our way via Andy Pope’s Excel Information blog.
The advice is contained in a guest posting this month from Ceri Williams, a self-confessed “ lean six sigma black belt” who has been working in the telecoms industry many years. The tips are based on a mnemonic based on the phrase “DASHBOARDS”.
A companion Excel file is available from the same website that illustrates how the principles can be applied in everyday use.
A chart may be accurate but will have no point if the underpinning data is out of context. Watch for situations that are open to misinterpretation, for example where smoothed lines showing trends could be misinterpreted as actuals.
Use easy to read fonts, sizes and formats for text inputs. Axis labels are easier to read if they’re horizontal.
Keep charts as simple as possible. Unnecessary information pollutes the message.
If you have multiple charts in your dashboard, keep them consisten. Avoid overpowering colours / themes styles.
Best chart selection
Chart types depend on the data you need to present and the messages you want to get across.
Overpowering 3D effects
Avoid - they distract the reader and distort data visually.
Who is your audience and what matters to them? Shape the style and level of detail to suit their needs.
Remove non-essential items
The more clutter you add to a chart (gradient backgrounds, full bodied axis lines, labels etc) the harder it will be to read.
Great for letter users control the content within a chart, but prefent confusion by ensuring controls are simple and intuitive.
Sensible scale and axis selection
Scale and axis choices can make a significant difference to the visual effect of a chart. Incorrect options will distort trends and misrepresent the data.