Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  513 ratings  ·  43 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 31st 2006 by O'Reilly Media
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. NormanDon't Make Me Think by Steve KrugUniversal Principles of Design by William LidwellThe Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. TufteSimple and Usable Web, Mobile, and Interaction Design by Giles Colborne
UX books
38th out of 43 books — 60 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,491)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ben Sweezy
This book is great. I routinely hand this to people as an introduction to critical thinking about meaningful elements of a graph. In today's language this book is more about graphs than about "visualizations" in that Few's emphasis is clean, readable charts that incorporate elements that fire the right cognitive parts of the brain. Like Tufte, he is a strong advocate for getting out of the way of the data (in Tufte's language, minimizing "data-junk" and maximizing the data-to-ink ratio), but Few...more
Zhenwei Chan
May 01, 2007 Zhenwei Chan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Improving your Excel presentation
Dashboard design - one of the most important aspect of presentation in this information-overload world today. If you're a consultant or researcher, and you have an encyclopedic amount of analysis you wish to present, do it succintly because most pple tune out after the first 10 mins. That's what a good dashboard should do - it ferrets out the essence of all information neatly in one single screen. the audience get to know what the numbers are and their significance in seconds. But designing such...more
Jan 06, 2012 Laurian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ux
Just seeing the title of this book I knew that I had to do my due diligence and read it - after all, one of the products that I work on is creating the dashboard on which different little items reside on. The last thing I wanted is for anyone to say "Hey have you read this book about information dashboard designs?" and I didn't have a good response.

I was a bit skeptical. In general I'm not the right audience for most O'Riley books about UX or HCI. Luckily the book ended up being pretty good. The...more
This should be required reading for anyone involved in reporting or dashboard design. This book adresses dashboard content as well as user interface design. He references Edward Tufte as well as some psychology studies about how people read and interpret information. This book is full of tips on what to do and what to avoid. He gives great examples and even picks on the major BI vendors in how they market and present "dashboards". It's a pretty easy and enjoyable read.
Jul 22, 2012 Margie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Margie by: BPAWG
Shelves: data
Note: I'm not the best person to review this book. I definitely started with the wrong Stephen Few book. This is the one my library had, but it focuses (as might be expected) quite narrowly on dashboards. What I've seen referred to as dashboards are apparently far from the reality, so I was clearly in the wrong book. I appreciate his ability to discuss visual perception and effective display of data, so I'll read one of his other books and hope to get more out of it.
Wes Baker
I greatly appreciate Stephen Few's approach to data visualization; this is the third book of his that I have purchased and I have found all of them helpful, even invaluable. He works from principles of perception, particularly the key principle of "preattentive attributes" (working with the brain so that a visualization is instantly understandable). As a result, his criteria is based on cognitive science, rather than design preferences. One of the problems with most books about dashboards to thi...more
Robert Postill
This book is very interesting, I work in BI/IM and so the subject matter appeals to me right off the bat. I'm also building dashboards at work and so there's a timely element in this book too.

I'm a massive fan of practicality in computing texts and this book doesn't disappoint. It's very practically laid out with a wealth of helpful illustration in it.
The choice of having vendor tools output is instructive and lends real credibility when laid out against the author's remedies. Although I imagine...more
William Decker
Don't let the incredibly banal title turn you away from this book. The book is a wonderful blend of data visualization, visual perception, and cognition that will make you a better presenter in any format, not just Information Dashboards.

Stephen Few goes out of his way to discuss the theory and the details behind presenting quantified results along with copious examples of good, bad, and meh examples. Be warned: after reading this book, your eyes will never glaze over during a presentation. Ins...more
For those in business intelligence, this is a great read. For those interested in reporting in general, I'd also recommend reading this book.

The overall contents goes through a quick history of dashboards, it's importance, good and bad practices, human psychology as applied to vision and examples. The best practices and human psychology element were to me the most fascinating as it is an aspect of dashboard design that few people seem to know enough about.

What makes this great is that it is a re...more
Jason Luellen
Oct 02, 2009 Jason Luellen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in data visualization
I started reading this book to prepare for dashboard development using QlikView. This is a nice book on the visualization of data, and the principles it presents are well organized and sound. However, having a background in psychology and data analysis, there wasn't a lot of new material to absorb. The bullet graphs were new and apealling, and Stephen Few's sense of design and color are strong. The unfamiliar will learn WHAT looks good and communicates information effectively but won't get much...more
Micah Tan
Great introduction to dashboard design and the particular UI issues that attend this type of application.

While it doesn't go into alot of depth (many of the explanations can be found at length in Tufte's "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information") the application of principles to examples is helpful.

The numerous visuals inflate the page count (in a good way) so it's a relatively quick read.

Key takeaway: simplicity, clarity, and the appropriate level of detail.
Max Lybbert
Very enjoyable and approachable discussion of ways to effectively display information, especially summary information that would be useful on a dashboard.

Stephen Few reminds me of Edward Tufte. However, Tufte seems to want to teach by osmosis, while Few does a better job covering how to actually put his advice into action.

I'm looking forward to reading Few's other books.
This is one of the few books I re-read every couple of years. The amount of information and the simplicity in the way important concepts are described makes it a volume I recommend to most information management (BI in particular) professionals.
If you need to deliver a dashboard, reports or consolidate data and show meaningful organised information, Stephen Few packaged a really large number of recommendations here.
Good intro to information design principles for comparing data. Chapters on bullet charts, spark lines and Few's dashboard competition are highly illustrative.

This type of book should be an ebook of some sort for quick searching and reference.
Information Dashboard Design describes how to present information needed for business decisions in a clear concise manner. Avoid clutter, avoid gimmicks, choose pleasing colors - nothing too bright. Reduce the non-data pixels! "Simplify, simplify, simplify!" as the author says, quoting Henry David Thoreau. Probably not a first in a business-oriented book, but refreshing.
Jul 24, 2008 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Paul by: David Worth
Wow. If any part of your job involves communicating data to other people, you should read this book. Not only does the author provide numerous techniques to apply to your own work, he explains the root of why different methods are good or bad. Reading this book, I didn't not feel like I was simply being informed - I felt like I was being educated. Amazing work!
Decent reiteration of all the relevant guidelines for creating useful information visualizations. I found the discussion of each visualization type (what kinds of information it was good for, etc) very useful. I also (being one who learns heavily by example) really enjoyed the analysis of both good and bad examples of information dashboards. All around, useful reference.
While at first I was not impressed with this book. As I slugged through it I felt it got better and better. In the end I think it was a good read, its short and succinct, extremely well laid out and beautifully published. For anyone who needs a decent introduction to information viz and "dashboards" I would recommend this as a good place to start.
This book was not about what I thought. This book is for Graphic Designers or people who want to organize their information on the dashboard so that it is easier to understand. I already know using more than 5 colors is a no-no. But I'm not a Graphic Designer. If you want to program a Dashboard, this is not what you want to read.
Neville Ridley-smith
Though not sizzling with excitement, this is an essential book that shows what works and what doesn't. It's hugely practical.

I particularly found the section on gestalt principles and how they apply to infographic design extremely interesting. I share them with the family and we had a great time coming up with pen and paper examples.
Since my graduation project consists of creating a dashboarding application, I had to learn about this new field which touches management (CPM), visual design and visual perception. This book was my gate into that world with great content and interesting insights. It's one of the best books in its domain.
Mark Lacy
Some good ideas in this. But I think the author missed a big opportunity: not only critique the bad ones, but correct them as well! Show the right way to do it side-by-side with the bad example!
Sep 12, 2011 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Useful book on data visualization in a specific context. Although it has to do with business dashboards a lot of the advice is broadly applicable to anywhere you're displaying more than a little bit of information. It's a bit too long but you can jump in and out of specific chapters as needed.
From one of the gurus of data presentation. Stephen Few takes excellent research in human factors, and shows how to apply it to the presentation of business data. If you want to know how to create that new Information Dashboard and have it really succeed, this is the way to do it.
If you are serious about creating a dashboard that conveys information, rather than just being visually interesting, this is the book for you. Few keeps the focus on step by step instructions for creating a visually minimal yet data-packed dashboard.

I think this book is pretty good. Some of his principles i have heard before from Tufte for example. I will try to incorporate some of his ideas into my dashboard, but some I will probably ignore (hey, I like bright colors).
Easy to grasp with lots of great examples. I like the way this book pulled together some of the information from other design books I've read. It's definitely earned a spot on my reference shelf!
Nicely put together, and while it focuses on business dashboard applications rather than wider categories (websites, etc.) there are still some good principles to be learned.
Nick Dunn
Very nice overview of some visualization techniques and best practices for dashboards. The examples are a bit dated now but the lessons still remain true
Nov 19, 2012 Ix added it
Shelves: user-experience
A somewhat dry, but useful book when looking into dashboards. A solid, quick overview of issues, concerns, and foundational dashboard thinking.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 49 50 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Beautiful Evidence
  • The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
  • Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click?
  • Designing Interfaces: Patterns for Effective Interaction Design
  • Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks
  • About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design
  • Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics
  • Communicating Design: Developing Web Site Documentation for Design and Planning
  • Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research
  • Designing Interactions [With CDROM]
  • Defensive Design for the Web: How to Improve Error Messages, Help, Forms, and Other Crisis Points
  • The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web
  • Sketching User Experiences:  Getting the Design Right and the Right Design
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices
  • Prioritizing Web Usability
  • Designing with the Mind in Mind: Simple Guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules
  • Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior
  • Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction
Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis

Share This Book