Anyone Else Notice the Over Usage of the Word ‘Dashboard’ / Lack of Principled Designs on the Web today ?

Doing a key-word search tonight using a variation of ‘dashboard, casino, marketing’ examples yielded two pages of the same link and a mix of other commentary type blogs. Granted, I am a blogger and find much value in the opinions of others. But, disenchantment quickly set in. It’s easy to comment on the designs of others. Crafting strategic KPIs in a way that can easily cascade down into tactical management dashboards and ultimately, down into operational reports in order to appeal to the broad audience of C-levels, middle managers and individual contributors is challenging. The data model and underlying ETL processes, the storage mechanisms, the network capacity, even the power of your box (both physical and virtually, speaking) can plague a dashboard’s performance. But what about design?
I am a huge fan of Stephen Few, having sat in several all day classes as well as assisting in coordinating his presence at a local TDWI NW Chapter as keynote speaker. His principles are simple to understand and visually, appeal to the broad and hidden nature of our visual cortex’ response to stimuli – What?
Our brains play a key part of the adoption of dashboards; plain and simple. The better designs in the world take into account everything from eye tracking on a screen, to real estate / importance placement of items on the screen, to color response cues (red – stop; green – go) and more importantly, our innate ability to shut down response when we are inundated with color / graphics / text / information. While everyone has stepped onto the bus and started down Dashboard Drive, I have to wonder when and where this road will stop, and the next latest and greatest will move into it’s place. Beware, oh reader; don’t be swayed by the flash and glitz of the sales presentation. Oh yeah, and, be wowed by sparklines and bullet graphs (here: http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=50) and their ability to relay trend, target, actuals in a simple line graph or horizontal bar chart using varying grey tones and a hint of red, without adding traffic lights or gauges (the bains of my existence, friends will the ill fated over-used pie chart).

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