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Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data
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Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  1,471 ratings  ·  75 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
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really liked it 4.00  · 
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 ·  1,471 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
If you've taken the time to read Tufte's Envisioning Information then I'm afraid you won't get much additional value from this. The author writes like an intelligent technician, thorough and wooden. The first 188 pages of the book are primarily a catalog of visual principles learned in a first year design class. It's not until the last few pages of the book, after having waded through a swamp of definitions and an exhaustive, exhausting cataloging of chart types, that the author broaches the sub ...more
Emre Sevinç
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd expect this book's message is already old and tired, and everybody who presented information in various meetings, and created dashboards knew which pitfalls to avoid. Unfortunately, still in 2018, you don't have to look for very bad examples of information visualization. They come at you from every corner in company meetings and Internet sites.

This book, in a very didactic format, distills the theory behind visual perception, cognitive science, and information visualization, and shows the re
Ben Sweezy
Nov 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Tom Panning
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usability
If you're tasked with designing a dashboard that meets Stephen's definition of "dashboard", this book has a lot to offer. To Stephen, "dashboard" means a single-screen UI that is used daily or at least weekly to keep track of the overall state of something. This book covers broad layout and design, but a lot of the value comes from the advice for dashboard elements. There is good advice on when and how to use common elements like bar charts and line charts, along with admonitions to not use pie ...more
Zhenwei Chan
May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Abner Huertas
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
El diseño es una parte esencial de nuestro trabajo, independiente del tipo de industria para la cual trabajes. Este libro me fue dado en un viaje que realizaba. En mi trabajo necesito presentar información relevante para los tomadores de decisiones, y seamos honestos... muchas veces presentamos gráficos que no comunican nada.

Stephen Few, me enseñó que entregar información que comunique es posible. Lo principal que uno debe de aprender es: simple; así es, la información que más comunica es aquell
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
While the underlying principles of effective data visual communication are well expressed and remain unchanged, the rest of this book—from 2006—is seriously dated. In this field, no text can go without a complete catalog of chart types, and complaints of why radar graphs are obscure and hard to read; this book is no exception. Advances in design systems and component libraries make many of the tactical recommendations moot. Interesting from an historical perspective, I suppose. Not recommended.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stephen Few is an acclaimed authority in the field of data visualization and his works have been sited in most of the books that I’ve referenced in the field. The Information Dashboard Design is my first read from his extensive list of works and I’m glad I made the time to go through it. Even though the title insinuates only coverage of information dashboards as a subject, don’t you dare judge the book by its’ cover.

The book starts off with a definition of a dashboard before smoothly proceeding
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really glad he included examples of the dashboards he wanted too fix from the early 2000s, because if I just saw the recommended dashboards I wouldn't have really trusted his design choices.

But when I compare what he recommends with what was actually out in the world, I can totally see how he knew what he was talking about.

I think he focused a bit to much on his weird bullet graph and his friend's spark line graphs, they both haven't caught on obviously.

I also didn't like his recommendations of
Collin Lysford
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, a major caveat - this is for dashboard as a single screen, invariant performance monitoring tool where the stakeholders glance at it frequently and need to be alerted about. Nowadays, dashboards tend to be a lot more about self-service drilldowns, a topic that this book touches on only very briefly. But for design of a single-screen front page, this has a lot of useful and actionable tips.

One sour note is that Few likes to really harp on negative examples. While this is a very useful tea
Daniil Bratchenko
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a collection of best practices, things to do and not to do when building a dashboard.

So far, I was building dashboards using my personal taste and intuition. This is my first book on the topic. It was informative and inspirational, a good source of ideas I did not figure out on my own. The first part of the book was the most useful. It contains general ideas of what dashboards are and what purpose they serve. The idea of dashboard matching the user's mental model and being used to
Terran M
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I quite like this book for a clear and organized presentation of what makes a good dashboard; I find it superior to Tufte in that the latter gives examples but fails to generalize them into principles that you can actually apply to new designs. Few is my favorite author on the topic of graphical presentation. If dashboards are not relevant to your work, he also has another book, Now You See It: Simple Visualization Techniques for Quantitative Analysis; reading one or the other of them will suffi ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dataviz
Хорошая книга с примерами дашбордов. Не только как делать не надо, а как делать нужно. Множество примеров, иллюстраций, отличная вёрстака и качество печати. Самое ценное лично для меня -- библиотека визуализаций, подходящих для дашбордов с подробным разбором каждого типа визуализации: от текстового сообщения до комбинированных графиков.
Supriya Raghavendra
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Good but not the best. A good overview of fundamental ideas that one needs to be mindful of while designing dashboards and rather thorough at that! However, the book falls short given how far dashboards have come since the time the book was written. Perhaps, this book needs revision of examples cited and addition of new chapters to keep it relevant to today's time. :S
Jozef Melichár
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Essential reading for anyone dealing with dashboards and reports.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
As usual for Stephen Few, the advice is generally good but the graph examples are almost all fake data devoid of context. We can't learn anything about the world from them... which is a problem when your book's goal is teaching you to learn about the world from graphs.

Also, there's considerable overlap here with his other books, talking about visual perception and other principles that apply to any dataviz (not just dashboards). That's handy if you don't plan to read any dataviz book beyond this
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Professional Data Vizzer Bible. Must read if you're going to visualize data or build a "Dashboard".

This book will cure your Bronchitis and get you out of Business Intelligence Hell.
Robert Postill
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
William Decker
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: work
Somewhat dated (2006) but a lot of it is still very applicable. The author uses numerous info dashboard examples and offers his critique on why they are confusing or mislead the user.
The author tends to lean towards a minimalistic version of dashboard and has thoughts on various aesthetic and practical issues with dashboard design. In all earnestness, he strives to create a new science for information dashboard design. And, to some extent, he succeeds. The book refers to several works of indust
amy francis
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FANTASTIC books by Stephen Few on visualization. He's the master of clear and concise visualization techniques. I make a point to re-read all his books each year. The basic direction remains relevant years later. It certainly helps to be able to deliver quantitative solutions to end users that read like a book for them. Each department, each company, each division has distinct and unique reporting needs. They need to be able to slice and understand their data on their terms. This gives you the k ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: data-analysis
Here are my notes on this book:

Information Dashboard Design

Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Anita Ashland
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, design
This review is for the second edition of the book.

If you are creating a dashboard then this book is a must. It's the Bible of dashboard design. This won't tell you how to create the graphs (I recommend Stephanie Evergreens books for that), but it gives you the foundation.

My favorite chapters are:

13 common mistakes in dashboard design.

An ideal library of graphs. This covers bullet graphs, bar graphs, dot plots, line graphs, sparklines, box plots, scatter plots, spatial maps, heat maps, and tree m
Chelsea Lawson
May 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
First, the bad: I though Few was overly aggressive in his disdain of the dashboards currently out there. There are plenty of good ones, particularly in the financial and sports sectors. No need to show 20+ examples of terrible dashboards.

The good: this book is immensely helpful for anyone looking to build dashboards. It goes step by step through the process- what questions to ask before sketching it out, what graphs to use for what sort of information. I am confident I will create better dashboa
Jason Luellen
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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