Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scorecard / Dashboard poor design

Stay away from “Chart Junk”
        Chart junk refers to visual content that serves no analytical purpose.  It’s just there for decoration.  Your customers will quickly tire of this content (as it is typically static) and this space on the scorecard will quickly become useless.  If you try to use this space at a later date for some important data your customers will have to retrain themselves to look at that space.  The space is better left blank.
Example of "Chart Junk"

Ok...that's probably a little dramatic but here is an actual chart (data changed) that someone submitted to me and asked me to add to a scorecard I was designing.

Not as bad as the previous picture but still too much going on and emphasis given to the wrong things.  It's in 3d (for no reason), the gray in the plot area and white gridlines need to go, and the font on the axis should be more muted.  Here is the final version I finally did add to the scorecard. 

Use “real estate” wisely –
        The upper left corner of the screen is known as prime real estate for web developers and scorecard developers alike.  One of the keys to good scorecard and dashboard development is to make it so your customers don’t have to scroll…everything is on one page.  If they have to scroll you should make sure that they only have to scroll vertically (up and down) and not horizontally.

Keep it Simple
        Just because your software has 100’s of different kinds of charts doesn’t mean you need to use them all.  There is a purpose for these 100’s of different charts but chances are you don’t need them.  My guess is that you can do most of the visual display that you need to do with Bar, Line, and Column charts.  Here (http://spreadsheet123.com/charttypes.html) is a quick explanation of types of charts and their general purposes.  You can easily find more information about various chart types by googling the chart name.  You don’t want the message of the data to get lost because people can’t understand and/or don’t want to take the time to understand the visual representation. 

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