Archive for the ‘Dashboard’ Category

Design, Math, and Data

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Design, Math, and Data: Lessons from the design community for developing data-driven applications by Dean Malmgren.

From the post:

When you hear someone say, “that is a nice infographic” or “check out this sweet dashboard,” many people infer that they are “well-designed.” Creating accessible (or for the cynical, “pretty”) content is only part of what makes good design powerful. The design process is geared toward solving specific problems. This process has been formalized in many ways (e.g., IDEO’s Human Centered Design, Marc Hassenzahl’s User Experience Design, or Braden Kowitz’s Story-Centered Design), but the basic idea is that you have to explore the breadth of the possible before you can isolate truly innovative ideas. We, at Datascope Analytics, argue that the same is true of designing effective data science tools, dashboards, engines, etc — in order to design effective dashboards, you must know what is possible.

As founders of Datascope Analytics, we have taken inspiration from Julio Ottino’s Whole Brain Thinking, learned from Stanford’s, and even participated in an externship swap with IDEO to learn how the design process can be adapted to the particular challenges of data science (see interspersed images throughout).

If you fear “some assembly required,” imagine how users feel with new interfaces.

Good advice on how to explore potential interface options.

Do you think HTML5 will lead to faster mock-ups?

See for example:

21 Fresh Examples of Websites Using HTML5 (2013)

40+ Useful HTML5 Examples and Tutorials (2012)

HTML5 Website Showcase: 48 Potential Flash-Killing Demos (2009, est.)

Information Dashboard Design…

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring by Stephen Few.

The Amazon description:

A leader in the field of data visualization, Stephen Few exposes the common problems in dashboard design and describes its best practices in great detail and with a multitude of examples in this updated second edition. According to the author, dashboards have become a popular means to present critical information at a glance, yet few do so effectively. He purports that when designed well, dashboards engage the power of visual perception to communicate a dense collection of information efficiently and with exceptional clarity and that visual design skills that address the unique challenges of dashboards are not intuitive but rather learned. The book not only teaches how to design dashboards but also gives a deep understanding of the concepts—rooted in brain science—that explain the why behind the how. This revised edition offers six new chapters with sections that focus on fundamental considerations while assessing requirements, in-depth instruction in the design of bullet graphs and sparklines, and critical steps to follow during the design process. Examples of graphics and dashboards have been updated throughout, including additional samples of well-designed dashboards.

Disclosure: I follow Stephen’s blog but I have not seen either edition of this book.

However, if you want to send me a copy, I will post a review of it. 😉

Or point me to other reviews and I will update this post with pointers.

6 Golden Rules to Successful Dashboard Design

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

6 Golden Rules to Successful Dashboard Design

From the article:

Dashboards are often created on-the-fly with data being added simply because there is some white space not being used. Different people in the company ask for different data to be displayed and soon the dashboard becomes hard to read and full of meaningless non-related information. When this happens, the dashboard is no longer useful.

This article discusses the steps that need to be taken during the design phase in order to create a useful and actionable dashboard.

Topic maps can be expressed as dashboards as well as other types of interfaces.

Whatever your interface, it needs to be driven by good design principles.

Successful Dashboard Design

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

Following formulaic rules will not make you a good author. Studying the work of good authors may, no guarantees, give you the skills to be a good author. The same is true of interface/dashboard design.

Examples of good dashboard design and why certain elements are thought to be exemplary can be found in: 2012 Perceptual Edge Dashboard Design Competition: We Have a Winner! by Stephen Few.

Unlike a traditional topic map node/arc display, these designs allow quick comparison of information between subjects.

Even if a topic map underlies the presentation, the nature of the data and expectations of your users will (should) be driving the presentation.

Looking forward to the appearance of the second edition of Information Dashboard Design ((by Stephen) which will incorporate examples from this contest.


Monday, May 14th, 2012


From the webpage:

The CTools are a Webdetails Open Source project composed by a collection of Pentaho plugins. Its purpose is to streamline the implementation and design process, expanding even further the range of possibilities of Pentaho Dashboards. This page represents our effort to keep you up to date with the our latest developments. Have fun, dazzle your clients and build a “masterpiece of a Dashboard”.

Tools include:

CCC: Community Charting Components (CCC) is a charting library on top of Protovis, a very powerful free and open-source visualization toolkit.

CBF: Focused on a multi-project/ multi-environment scenario, the Community Build Framework (CBF) is the way to setup and deploy Pentaho based applications.

CDA: Community Data Access (CDA) is a Pentaho plugin designed for accessing data with great flexibility. Born for overcoming some cons of the older implementation, CDA allows you to access any of the various Pentaho data sources and:

  • join different datasources just by editing an XML file
  • cache queries providing a great boost in performance.
  • deliver data in different formats (csv, xls, etc.) through the Pentaho User

CDE: The Community Dashboard Editor (CDE) is the outcome of real-world needs: It was born to greatly simplify the creation, edition and rendering of dashboards.

CDF: Community Dashboard Framework (CDF) is a project that allows you to create friendly, powerful, fully featured dashboards on top of the Pentaho BI server. Former Pentaho dashboards had several drawbacks from a developer’s point of view. The developing process was awkward, it required know-how of web technologies and programming languages, and basically it was time-consuming. CDF emerged as a need for a framework that overcame all those difficulties. The final result is a powerful framework featuring the following:

  • It is based on Open Source technologies.
  • It separates logic (JavaScript) of the presentation (HTML, CSS)
  • It features a life cycle with components interacting with each other
  • It uses AJAX
  • It is extensible, which gives the users a high level of customization: . Advanced users can extend the library of components.
  • They also can insert their own snippets of JavaScript and jQuery code.

CST: Community Startup Tabs (CST) represents the easiest way to define and implement the Pentaho startup tabs depending on the user that logs into the PUC. Ranging from a single institutional page to a list of dashboards or reports among other contents, the tabs that each Pentaho user uses to open after loging into the PUC vary depending on the user preferences, or his/her role in the company. Then, why let Pentaho open always the same home page for everyone? The list of tabs to be opened automatically right after the login can be different depending on the user thanks to CST. Community Startup Tabs (CST) is a plugin with the following features:

  • it allows you to define diferent startup tabs for each user that logs into the PUC. .it is easy to configure.
  • it allows to define startup tabs based on user names or user roles.
  • for the definition of the startup tabs it allows you to specify user names or roles using regular expressions.

The trick to dashboards (as opposed to some, nameless, applications) is to deliver obviously useful options and information to users.


Friday, March 9th, 2012


From the readme:

Graphene is a realtime dashboard & graphing toolkit based on D3 and Backbone.

It was made to offer a very aesthetic realtime dashboard that lives on top of Graphite (but could be tailored to any back end, eventually).

Combining D3’s immense capabilities of managing live data, and Backbone’s ease of development, Graphene provides a solution capable of displaying thousands upon thousands of datapoints in your dashboard, as well as presenting a very hackable project to build on and customize.

Is it chance that interest on graph databases and graph display mechanisms have gone up at the same time?

Google Analytics Tutorial: 8 Valuable Tips To Hustle With Data!

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Google Analytics Tutorial: 8 Valuable Tips To Hustle With Data! by Avinash Kaushik.

This is simply awesome! For several reasons.

I started to say because it’s an excellent guide to Google Analytics!

I started to say because it has so many useful outlinks to other resources and software.

And all that is very true, but not my “take away” from the post.

My “take away” from the post is that to succeed, “Analysis Ninjas” need to delivery useful results to users.

That means both information they are interested in seeing and delivered in a way that works for them.

The corollary is that data of no interest to users or delivered in ways users can’t understand or easily use, are losing strategies.

That means you don’t create web interfaces that mimic interfaces that failed for applications.

That means given the choice of doing a demo with Sumerian (something I would like to see) or something with the interest level of American Idol, you choose the American Idol type project.

Avinash has outlined some of the tools for data analysis. What you make of them is limited only by your imagination.

What is a Dashboard?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

What is a Dashboard? – Defining dashboards, visual analysis tools and other data presentation media by Alexander ‘Sandy’ Chiang.

From the post:

To reiterate, there are typically four types of presentation media: dashboards, visual analysis tools, scorecards, and reports. These are all visual representations of data that help people identify correlations, trends, outliers (anomalies), patterns, and business conditions. However, they all have their own unique attributes.

What do you think? Are there four for business purposes or do other domains offer more choices? If so, how would you distinguish them from those defined here?

Just curious. I can imagine flogging one of these to a business client who was choosing based on experience with these four choices. Hard to choose what you have not seen. But beyond that, say in government circles, do these hold true?

Dashboard Designs People Love – A Refresher

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Dashboard Designs People Love – A Refresher

From Juice Analytics:

Using proper dashboard design techniques is a topic that struck a chord when we released our white paper series “A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use” a few years ago, and still seems to resonate as people regularly download the content from the Juice Analytics website, and we receive ongoing requests to speak around these key principles.

Since we can all use a little calibration every once in a while to stay in tune, we thought we’d post it again, with a reminder that you can access this oldie but goody, along with other materials on the Juice Analytics resources page anytime — and that all of these materials are available to you gratis.

Other resources you will find at Juice Analytics:

Designing a Better ‘Federal IT Dashboard’

Dashboard Design – Flow

Chart Makeovers, Fed IT Dashboard edition

The nearly fifty page “Guide” is worth registering for future updates.

I don’t know if your topic map application will have an interface that “presents as” a dashboard, but if it does, these resources are a good start towards a good one.

Not to mention that most design lessons are generally applicable to all interface design.

(I would say something about interfaces or websites where design challenged CEOs/COOs were allowed input or approval but that would be adding insult to injury wouldn’t it?)