Coming Soon: A New Edition of Information Dashboard Design

Dashboards have become, in the minds of many, the most useful new form of information display that has emerged in the last decade or so. Since its publication in 2006, my book Information Dashboard Design has consistently been a best seller in the field of data visualization and the unchallenged authority on the visual design of dashboards, but it is in need of an update. In late July or early August, this problem will be solved with the publication of Information Dashboard Design: Displaying data for at-a-glance monitoring, Second Edition, in hardback from Analytics Press.

New chapters have been added that focus on the following topics:

  • Fundamental considerations while assessing requirements
  • In-depth instruction in the design of bullet graphs
  • In-depth instruction in the design of sparklines
  • Critical steps that you should take during the design process

Examples of graphics and dashboards have been updated throughout the book and many new examples have been added, including a few more well-designed dashboards. In total, approximately 30% more content has been added to the book.

To give you a sense of this new edition, here’s the preface:

When I finished writing the first edition of this book in early 2006, I could not find a single example of a well-designed dashboard to illustrate the principles and practices that I advocate. Prior to this book, no specific guidelines for dashboard design existed. Not only did no good examples exist at the time, but no software could easily produce them. For example, in early 2006 no products supported data visualization expert Edward Tufte’s sparklines, which often work ideally on dashboards to provide an abbreviated view of history. No products supported bullet graphs either; shortly before this book was first published, I had introduced the bullet graph as a better alternative to typical dashboard gauges. I took a risk by writing a book that urged people to do what exceeded the capabilities of existing technology at the time. The risk paid off in that dashboard software has come a long way since then (although it still has a long way to go). However, had I worked within the boundaries of existing products at the time, the book would have not been worthwhile.

One complaint that I received about the first edition of this book was that it didn’t include enough examples of well-designed dashboards. Given the technological limitations that I’ve just described, I had to create, using Adobe Illustrator, the few good examples that appeared in the final chapter of the first edition. One of the main reasons that I’ve now written this second edition is to respond to this legitimate but unavoidable complaint by adding several more good examples, most of which were created by others.

In the years since 2006, another minor gap has developed between the book that I initially wrote and this second edition: the dashboard examples are somewhat dated. What’s surprising, however, is the fact that most of the dashboards that people create today using the latest technology are no better than their early predecessors. Almost every software vendor that claims to support dashboards features a hall of shameful examples on its website. I had a wealth of poorly designed dashboards to choose from vendor websites; I’ve included those examples throughout this new edition to illustrate bad but typical design practices.

Now that copies of the first edition are no longer available for purchase, Amazon.com is now accepting pre-orders for the new edition. I hope you find it useful. It has certainly been a labor of love.

Take care,

10 Comments on “Coming Soon: A New Edition of Information Dashboard Design”


By Colin Michael. May 21st, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I was eyeing the previous version while reading Show Me the Numbers, but I’m glad I waited for the update. I’ve been very critical of most dashboards I’ve found in various ERP and other software. Soon I will be principally responsible for delivering them within my organization. I’m confident these two resources will help me to expeditiously inform my audiences.

By Mike Baratta. May 22nd, 2013 at 7:29 am

Colin,

I use both of those books all of the time. In fact, I just pre-ordered the new one. They are a tremendous resource. If you have the chance, I would suggest that you attend one of Stephen’s workshops. I attended on a couple of years ago and it really helped me to better understand the best ways to make dashboards.

Good luck!

By Jordan Goldmeier. May 22nd, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I am super excited for this next edition. Of course, I pre-ordered it!

By Robin Moffatt. May 23rd, 2013 at 2:41 am

Will there be a Kindle / eBook version?

By Stephen Few. May 24th, 2013 at 12:48 am

Robin,

An electronic version will not be published anytime soon. To make my books available electronically, I must redesign the page layout, which will take some time. I’m planning to do this for all of my books, but not immediately. For now, I’m focused on writing a new book.

By Martin. May 24th, 2013 at 3:23 am

How about a PDF identical to the printed version? I would love to have your books available on my iPad in a PDF annotation app.

By Stephen Few. May 24th, 2013 at 3:45 am

Martin,

My books are carefully laid out for reading as a two-page spread. Unfortunately, the iPad’s screen is not large enough to view more than one page at a time.

By Gary Bastoky. June 12th, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Looking forward to the second edition of your excellent book! I am especially in need of alternatives to very long (wide?) tables that, on my opinion, are overwhelming to the user, rather than helpful. I’m trying to change that. Seems like I’m always trying to change something to make information more accessible.

I did want to thank you for not going the way of so many other authors who seem to just turn their books over to their publisher for single-sourcing. In my 30 years as a designer, it seems I’ve run the whole gamut of designing for usability, from information design to designing the interaction for complex computer applications. But the most important thing I learned, the thing that is the backbone of all my other work, is book design or more specifically, page design.

Pages have proportions which require margins and column widths, readable type faces, good interline spacing, type color (the combination of type sizes, leading and column width), and setting up a rhythm which allows the user to make use of the information. To just convert to a PDF or single source a well designed book to work on the iPad, is sacrilege. Losing readability is losing your audience.

I know that most people are unaware of this, and it is as it should be, because a well designed book’s design should be transparent. It should host the content, not overwhelm it or make it obvious, that is, if the average reader is spending time thinking about the design, they’re not retaining the information.

So, thank you for holding off and designing specifically for the format(s). And thank you for your excellent, thoughtful, and well designed books!

By Scott. June 18th, 2013 at 6:49 am

I look forward to reading the new edition. Both of your books were the foundation I used to create dashboarding standards that were used at my previous place of employment.

By Stephen Few. July 19th, 2013 at 11:47 am

According the Amazon.com, the new edition of Information Dashboard Design will begin shipping from them on July 21st–that’s two days from now!