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.