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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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,632 ratings  ·  88 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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Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer KnaflicData Visualisation by Andy KirkThe Functional Art by Alberto CairoInformation Dashboard Design by Stephen FewKnowledge is Beautiful by David McCandless
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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
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
Laurian Vega
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.
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. ...more
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. ...more
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
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ux-design
I am a product and service designer, so book had limited value for me as such. I'd recommend it for management and business analysts, as it gives some good criticism of the subject and basic knowledge in research and design applications for dashboards

Main shortcomings:
- It is a bit wordy in style, which adds unnecessary length
- Though some updates were made, most of the examples seem pretty outdated

The most useful (for me) chapter is first one with historical context and thoughts of what dashboa
Mar 04, 2021 rated it liked it
I'm sure that when this was first published in 2006, it was some pretty groundbreaking stuff. Unfortunately, I read it in 2020, and the majority of the ideas the author professes have long been implemented as defaults in tools like Tableau. This is not to say that those ideas are trivial, far from it, it's just the "common dashboard mistakes" the author lovingly catalogues aren't all that common anymore. The field of visualization has moved by leaps and bounds since then.

Nevertheless, I don't re
Hamish Seamus
Like Don't Make Me Think, this is abook written by a consumate pro.

It's exactly as long as it needs to be, and presents information clearly and logically.

If only more books were written like this.

Some of the key take-aways:
- Never use pie charts. Bar charts are more space-efficient and much clearer.
- Same for radar graphs
- Never use a grouped bar chart. Line charts are much clearer.
- Avoid stacked bar charts. Instead use two line charts: one for total and one for components.
- Maximize the data-
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
Khuong Ngoc
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book offers very conprehensive and systematic approach to dashbaord design, taken into account how human perception works. It is written in an almost text book like format, and the abundance of photographic examples certain help a lot of the information digestion. A very useful look i to how, above beautiful design, dashboards can be made to present the essential information, with a business context. Unfortunately, in the world we still have too much pf dashboards that are just noisy and not ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Throughout the book, Mr Few many times emphasises the efficiency of visualisation - how important it is to convey a maximum amount of information with simplest graphical means possible. And the book adheres to this principle as well - it's short but densely packed with knowledge, well-structured, providing concrete, actionable advice instead of vague 'best practices' most of the time. A must-read for an analyst or data scientist who needs to present data visualisation to others. ...more
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 ...more
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: synaps-best-of
A disciple of Tufte, Few modernizes his legacy and applies his own, powerful innovations to a very contemporary problem: grasping at a glance information that is truly important. If dashboards have become a gimmick and a fad, Few restores their original purpose: efficacy.
Jozef Melichár
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Essential reading for anyone dealing with dashboards and reports.
Don Victorio
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. I learnt a lot from this book.
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It gives you a clear path on how to design the best dashboard you possibly can, and achieve the goal of each dashboard: create the situation awareness required to monitor and manage performance.
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well, that was worth it: comprehensive yet easily digestible, grounded in theory while readily applied. I predict I'll be leaning on this reference often. ...more
Zachary King
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strong practical application of Data Visualization Theory.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great book for anyone working on dashboards. This is going to make me hate many dashboards moving forward.
Alexander Holzmann
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Would recommend for anyone working with data and dashboards.
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.
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