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Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596100162
ISBN-10: 0596100167
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Few is the author of Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten (2004), Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data (2006), and Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis (2009). Stephen is recognized as a world leader in the field of data visualization and he has worked for more than 25 years as an information technology innovator, educator, and consultant. As the principal of the consultancy Perceptual Edge, he focuses on practical uses of data visualization to explore, analyze, and present quantitative information. He also teaches in the MBA program at the University of California, Berkeley.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596100167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596100162
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Jose Ernesto Passos on March 17, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading this book I have the following positive points to make:

.. It is very well designed, it is nice to look at it.

.. Has some good ideas (but they are not original ones).

.. In general, following its advice you will be able to do a better design of dashboards and management information systems screens.

If I counted only this I would give it 5 stars, but, I think this book has some negative points. One of the points makes the author inconsistent with his own recommendations throughout the book.

The book is about designing dashboards and the major line of thought is:
- keep it simple, clean and objective.
- Use the tools (graphics and tables) in a rational way.
- don't use all the fancy features that software vendors put in their products for they will make your dashboard less effective.

But the author when writing it, forgot part of his own teachings and produced a text that is very prolixic, too many words to explain simple concepts and ideas. Lacks objectivity.

So, if you want to better understand the use of graphs, take a look at Naomi Robbins, "Creating More Effective Graphs". This book is very objective, simple and fast to read.

The second flaw is that in the examples to show how to do a well designed dashboard, the author used two types of graphs that are not available in today's softwares. One type of graph was created by the author while writing this book (bullet graphs) and the other (sparkline) is the creation of Mr.Tufte, which will appear in a future book of his. It would be more useful to see examples with the typical tools available to design a dashboard.

So, be prepared for a nice experience with pictures and graphs in a sea of words. It is an excellent book that will help design dashboards and the like. (So far is the best book on this topic).
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Format: Paperback
I am currently working (as a software developer) on building a platform which incorporates a dashboard, so this book caught my attention. I learned a lot more than I ever really wanted to know about dashboard design aesthetics, visual perception and color theory; but if you're looking for a one-stop-shop detailing dashboard design, this is the book.

From the perspective of a software developer, I found the chapter "Thirteen Common Mistakes in Dashboard Design" quite useful. It discusses (obviously) thirteen "no-nos" when designing a dashboard. It has plenty of pictures illustrating the mistakes and describing helpful alternatives. The book is quick to read, the examples and critiques are explained well and easy to follow.

Not having a design background, I don't feel qualified to comment on the content other than to say it all made sense to me. :) I did, however, loan the book to one of our in-house design guys - he said it was "pretty good" and would recommend it.

If you're directly involved in building or designing a dashboard, this book is nice because it's all about dashboards - rather than a design book with just a chapter or two on dashboards.
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Format: Paperback
One of the system architecture ideas that has waxed and waned over the years is the concept of an Information Dashboard... a single screen of data that summarizes key data points for quick monitoring by executives. But just throwing a few graphs on the web page isn't necessarily the right thing to do. Stephen Few covers the subject of dashboard design in his book Information Dashboard Design : The Effective Visual Communication of Data.

Contents: Clarifying the Vision; Variations in Dashboard Uses and Data; Thirteen Common Mistakes in Dashboard Design; Tapping Into the Power of Visual Perception; Eloquence Through Simplicity; Effective Dashboard Display Media; Designing Dashboards for Usability; Putting it All Together; Appendix; Index

For someone like me (not a whiz when it comes to graphic design) to really like a book of this nature is saying something. I actually understood everything he was writing, and I didn't think this was some self-serving "listen to me because I'm an expert" volume. The book is printed on heavy paper stock and full color, so the examples don't lose any impact in the normal translation to black and white. Lavishly illustrated with examples both good and bad, it's easy to see why some things work and some don't. Even designs that I thought "looked" professional had significant drawbacks. For instance, colors should represent the same thing throughout the page. Don't make a pie chart with a red slice if you want red to represent a danger indicator somewhere else on the screen. Minimize the non-data pixels so the eyes don't have to work at interpreting data from "fluff" (like graph lines). And when you're choosing graphing formats, make sure you choose ones which are relevant to the data being displayed.
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Found this book great for discussing how to better structure dashboard interfaces yet as other reviews highlight the real meat is only a fraction of the book.

I think this book suits programmers, dreamweaver artists and web project managers more than it does information designers as many of the insights are intuitive to them.

What I struggled with the most was the amount of slagging of existing systems that the author does. For all the negativity he then only has one or two examples of how it should work. Thus the real take home value is the final chapter.

I'd rather recommend - The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, 2nd edition,Envisioning Information ,The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures, Universal Principles of Design - Then apply their theories within the needs of the interface you're working with (Big or small screen, touch or mouse interaction, fixed or fluid layout etc) on your own as this book goes into none of that in a deep manner.
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