The 8 Laws of Dashboard Design: This Is Not an 80’s Rave

August 2, 2012
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There is a right balance to strike between creating beautiful dashboards and creating informative dashboards.  Many of the rules of thumb are easily understandable, and you don’t have to hold a PhD in Analytics to follow them.  So, go ahead, share them with colleagues, customers and partners and let’s, together, help the world go from ineffective dashboards to effective and engaging data work!

There is a right balance to strike between creating beautiful dashboards and creating informative dashboards.  Many of the rules of thumb are easily understandable, and you don’t have to hold a PhD in Analytics to follow them.  So, go ahead, share them with colleagues, customers and partners and let’s, together, help the world go from ineffective dashboards to effective and engaging data work!

Choropleth chart

Rule No. 3: This Is Not An 80’s Rave

Bright, intense, or neon colors don’t just make the screen look busier, they also end up vying for attention with actual data in the viewer’s brain; it’s hard to process a pie chart displaying customer segmentation when your retinas are screaming “NEON PINK NEON PINK NEON PINK!”  Use three or fewer colors, and pick shades along a dark-light scale to make your dashboard more colorblind-friendly.  

Colorhexa.com generates gradients, color schemes, and monochromatic color options based on any 6-digit CSS code.  Monochromatic ranges are a handy for generating stacked bar or donut charts that don’t scar your retinas.   

While we’re on the subject, use colors suitable for your data.  Representing quarterly energy savings in shades of green is okay, representing life insurance claims data in lime green is not.  When in doubt, follow Liz Fosslien’s rules

 

Want to read the full report?  You can download the pdf here to see the remaining seven laws, plus examples of some of the best and worst charts we’ve seen.