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Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data

Stephen Few · 3 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
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.
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No, it's not common to see this kind of visualisation. Bad visualisations? Yeah, they're pretty common. The usual mistake is overuse of Pie Charts.

I'd recommend the OP (and anyone else who has an interest in communication) to read:

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Information Dashboard Design

Now You See

Ironically, the OP recommends that you read The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, as well. I suspect that the mediocre example (I thought it was reasonably readable and somewhat interesting) was there more as a demonstration of the fact that R makes non-scatter plots easily, too.
It's from and is one of the example plots for
I must say that the icicle plot of the same data is way more readable. The crisscrossing lines are all but useless to get a feel of the data.

go to and click on icicle plot to see what is going on.

Jun 01, 2012 · j_s on Your Startup Needs a Dashboard
Here is the book:

Do you have any additional suggested reading material? Thanks much.

That Stephen Few book is pretty much all you need, but you can also check out Edward Tufte's books, and Juice Analytics' white papers (
There is this as well

The The Grammar of Graphics (Statistics and Computing) by Leland Wilkinson is also great, though more focused on building graphing systems. I believe it is the inspiration for a lot of d3.js

it's specific to certain types of displays, but Information Dashboard Design is pretty solid. not great for getting customers in, but excellent for internal reporting and tracking. these things make ceo's happy. (
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