Edward Tufte advice on dashboard thread still alive

This thread from Edward Tufte on executive dashboard presentation is from 2003 but just got a new post: http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000bx&topic_id=1&topic= 

A reader was working on a dashboard with a “Zen” version of a KPI status indicator, using as little color as possible, and incorporating Edward Tufte’s innovative “Spark Line” metaphor for display of trends. Please read the thread for Mr. Tufte’s very helpful comments. He had a great statement about over-zealous graphics:

For information displays for management, avoid heavy-breathing metaphors such as the mission control center, the strategic air command, the cockpit, the dashboard, or Star Trek. As Peter Drucker once said, good management is boring. If you want excitement, don’t go to a good management information system.

Simple designs showing high-resolution data, well-labelled information in tables and graphics will do just fine. One model might be the medical interface in Visual Explanations (pages 110-111) and the articles by Seth Powsner and me cited there. A model for tables might be the supertable, shown in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, p. 179. More generally, see chapter 9 of The Visul Display of Quantitative Information. The displays should often be accompanied by annotation, details from the field, and othersupplements.

“Sparklines” show high-resolution data and also work to reduce the recency bias prevalent in data analysis and decision-making.

If you are not familiar with Tufte’s body of work, you must immediately take a look at his books.

Edward Tufte Dashboard Advice

As for this dashboard, take a close look at the top of the screen. Note the dials, the graphs and the red, green, yellow bars. A lot of information in a small space.

Again, if you need to read up on the Tufte body of work, use this amazon link for a significant discount.

So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of business dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot to share, please leave a comment or send an email to info _at_ dashboardspy.com. Also check out The Dashboard Spy’s favorite books.

7 thoughts on “Edward Tufte advice on dashboard thread still alive

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