A new edition of Information Dashboard Design

Just in case you haven’t already noticed, the new edition of Information Dashboard Design is now available!

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 of dashboards that are well designed. In total, approximately 30% more content has been added to the book. It has been a labor of love that I hope you find useful.

Take care,

25 Comments on “A new edition of Information Dashboard Design”


By David Gerbino | @dmgerbino. July 23rd, 2013 at 9:10 pm

My copy was delivered today by Amazon. I’m looking forward to reading this hard cover quality made version. Thanks for revisiting the subject.

By Colin Michael. July 24th, 2013 at 11:50 am

Eye-catching book, everyone passing my desk remarks on it or picks it up. UPS driver delivered it next door last night. Probably because it was just too heavy to carry one house further up the street :-p

By Dave. July 27th, 2013 at 6:39 pm

The book just arrived and was wondering if you will have examples from your book somewhere on your website to download? Or will they be on the publishers site?

Looking forward to diving in!!!

By Stephen Few. July 27th, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Dave,

What examples are you interested in having in electronic form?

By Soddy. July 29th, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hi Few,

I’ve read the 1st edition, and it was a masterpiece.
I try to bear in mind your design guidelines in my presentation deck design. (though it’s not a dashboard but the principles & tools still works.)

Just to confirm with you, have you share the way to develop bullet graphs & sparklines in PPT/keynote? I tried to simulate in powerpoint but failed.

Soddy

By Stephen Few. July 29th, 2013 at 8:11 am

Soddy,

I do not provide instructions for creating bullet graphs in PowerPoint or Keynote in the book. In fact, I don’t provide instructions for creating bullet graphs in any particular software products. Several products support bullet graphs as a standard chart type today, and bullet graphs can be created in several other products (e.g., Excel) by combining existing chart types. I suspect that bullet graphs can be created in PowerPoint using the same approach that’s used in Excel (you can find instructions for this from several sources by doing a Web search on “bullet graphs in Excel”), but I don’t know for sure.

By Soddy. July 29th, 2013 at 8:25 am

Hi Few,

Thank you! I didn’t know the bullet graph had been so popular already.
Sorry for my ignorance.

By Matthew Clapp. July 29th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Just received my copy in the mail. The first edition of this book is what really got me interested in visualization. Looking forward to diving in. Thanks Stephen!

By Barry Cooper. July 31st, 2013 at 9:57 am

Hi Stephen,
Can you tell us when the book will be available in the UK?
Many thanks

By Bryan Pierce. July 31st, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Hi Barry,

It takes a couple extra weeks to transfer the books to the U.K. and the U.K. branch of Amazon orders Stephen’s books through an intermediary, so that will take a little more time too. I’d guess Amazon.co.uk will start shipping the books in another week or two, but I’m checking with Stephen’s distributor to get a more accurate release date for you. Once they get back to me, I’ll post that here.

By Bryan Pierce. August 2nd, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Barry,

I just heard back from our distributor and, unfortunately, it will be closer to a month before Amazon.co.uk starts shipping “Information Dashboard Design.” When I estimated that it would take another week or two, I assumed that the intermediary Amazon.co.uk gets the books from had pre-ordered the book and the order had left our distributor’s warehouse two or three weeks ago. I found out that the intermediary just placed their order within the last day or two and the books won’t be leaving our distributor until next week. Sorry for the disappointing news.

By Barry Cooper. August 5th, 2013 at 11:22 am

Thanks Bryan, good to know its on its way at least!

By Matthew. August 6th, 2013 at 7:01 am

Putting my pre-order in now on Amazon UK. Another excellent book no doubt to add to my growing Few collection.
They are bibles in my world, and I preach the lessons wherever I go :)

By Brad Leach. August 10th, 2013 at 4:16 am

Stephen, is there an ebook version available? (PDF Preffered)

By Stephen Few. August 10th, 2013 at 10:42 am

Brad,

I’m asked this question (“Is there an e-book version of your book, and if not, why not?”) more and more often these days. The direct answer is “no.” Here’s the reason why. In their present form, my books were designed with great care for print. In particular, I put a lot of time into the placement and sizing of figures so they are almost always visible when your reading the text that describes them. Having to turn the page to see something that is being described is not only annoying to readers, it undermines learning. A printed book has what’s called a spread–the left and right pages combined–which are simultaneously visible. The spread gives me the opportunity to place a figure on the right page that’s being described on the left page and vice versa. PDFs of my books would provide the same reading experienced if they were viewed on the screen as a two-page layout, but this is only possible on a large, high-resolution screen. Today, most people who prefer electronic books read them on tablet devices. At best, you can only view one page at the time on a tablet.

In addition to the problem I’ve just described, some types of electronic books make matters worse by reflowing text and figures, completely ignoring the original layout of the book. Kindle editions are an example of this. In my opinion, a Kindle edition of a book about data visualization, which consists of many figures that should appear as and where the author/designer intended, is ghastly.

I appreciate the usefulness of electronic books. The ability to take your library with you wherever you go is valuable. For this reason, I plan to create electronic versions of my books, but this will take time and effort. Designing the layout of my books to provide a good reading experience on tablet devices will be even harder than the effort that went into designing them for print, which was significant.

There is one more issue that is currently mucking up the works. I pay a book distributor to store my books in warehouses and deliver them to larger distributors and booksellers. Because Analytics Press is a small publisher, we work with a distributor named Independent Publishers Group (IPG) that caters to the needs of publishers with relatively few books. They do a fairly good job of distributing printed books, and do so for an acceptable percentage of sales revenues. Unfortunately, they require their clients to distribute both printed and electronic books through them, but the fee that they charge for electronic distribution is absurdly excessive. Electronic book distribution does not require them to store or ship anything physical. When they distribute electronic copies of books to sellers, they send a file once and they’re done, except for the collection of revenues. For this, my distributor wants to charge a fee that is not significantly less than the fee that they charge for the distribution of physical books. I suspect that, as the business of physical book distribution is waning due to increases in electronic book sales, IPG is desperately trying to make up for its losses in income, but this isn’t the way to do it. The publishing business is undergoing an upheaval, which is forcing companies to adapt. Those that come up with new business models that provide value to their customers will survive. I’m hoping that IPG will figure out how to do this by the time I get around to producing electronic versions of my books, otherwise I’ll be shopping for a new distributor.

That’s the long answer to your short question.

By Rick. August 10th, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Hi Stephen,

Another thing you might consider for an e-book version is reach. Where I’m at, the book would take a couple weeks to ship and end up costing double the list price. Given a digital version, I’d be reading it right now and you’d have another $25 in your pocket. I’d rather have a less-than-optimal reading experience than not to read it at all, a warning would be enough; hope your publisher gets their shit together and stop fucking with digital distribution.

regards,
Rick

By Stephen Few. August 10th, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Rick,

My publisher, Analytics Press, is great. Analytics Press consists of my friend and fellow author Jonathan Koomey and me. It is the distributor that we work with that wants to charge an extortionate fee for electronic distribution.

It is true that electronic versions of my books could reach people that printed versions will never reach, which is one of the reasons that I hope to create them. I won’t compromise the quality of the books, however, by making them available in an electronic versions that aren’t designed for optimal reading and learning. This is not a compromise that I’m willing to make. It is this unwillingness to compromise that makes my books and courses worthwhile. Similarly, I have turned down dozens of requests for translation rights. If I don’t know the language, I cannot confirm the quality of the work, and I’m not willing to have my name on poor quality work. This means that non-English speakers will never be able to read my books. One could argue that a poorly translated book would be better than no book at all, but I don’t see it that way. The world is drowning in poor quality work. I’d rather not contribute to it.

By Mathieu Labrie. August 14th, 2013 at 8:25 am

Hi Stephen,

Thank you for the new edition of the book.

I was hooked with Now you see it and now going through Information Dashboard Design 2nd edition. I find it interesting to see your solutions to real world problem I tackled in the past (With less depth in the rationale for making certain choices, I admit it. hehe)

Best regards,

PS: I use/am working on adapting the bricks concept for a specific visualization situation in my industry. It’s great ‘sir, thanks for that also.

By Leslie Clemence. August 26th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Hi Stephen,

Only to get you thinking.
I agree with you that “world is drowning in poor quality work. I’d rather not contribute to it.””
But despite my english name i live in Brazil so my primary language is portuguese.
I’m a physician and like you i love information technology, i’m studying news ways to graphically demonstrate medical subjects.
Perhaps in the next years i will be able to publish a interesting ( hope so ) book of information technology in medicine, and probably will be write in portuguese ;)
If you would like to read this book what you will do ?

By Stephen Few. August 27th, 2013 at 9:06 am

Hello Leslie,

I would indeed be sad that I could not read your book because it was not available in English. However, if you chose not to have it translated into English because you did not speak the language and could not confirm the quality of the translation, I would understand.

In addition to my inability to confirm the quality of a translation, there are also practical concerns. If I agreed to allow one of my books to be translated into Portuguese, even though I could not review the written text, I would need to work with the book compositor on the book’s layout and I would need to negotiate a publishing contract, which could involve hundreds of hours. Considering the fact that this time could have been used instead to work on a new book or to teach workshops to a few hundred people, would work on a Portuguese translation be the best use of my time? This is not as simple as it might seem on the surface.

By Valdimar. September 3rd, 2013 at 1:05 am

Hi Stephen,

I’m very interested in this new edition of the book and was searching around for any news of the possibility of a Kindle version. I noticed your comment above about such a version, considering how the e-ink Kindle would try and probably fail to render all the figures in the book properly, with which I agree; it would be ghastly.

However, I was thinking of using the Kindle app on my iPad to read this book. That eBook version would be virtually* identical to the print version, with all the graphs and figures intact. One could also view that same rendition in the Kindle browser app.

So, is there any chance of an eBook happening, with this in mind?

I wouldn’t mind buying it through iTunes, but I prefer Kindle due to the portability.

Best regards,
Valdimar

*Perhaps even “literally identical,” in the new definition of the word.

By Stephen Few. September 3rd, 2013 at 8:42 am

Valdimar,

Even if you could get Kindle versions of my books that keep the formatting as is, you would only be able to view one page at a time on a tablet device such as the iPad. Unfortunately, this isn’t a good option, because the books were designed to be read as a two-page spread, not a single-page view. You would regularly find yourself reading about figures that weren’t visible, which is a problem that I’ve worked hard to avoid.

By Valdimar. September 4th, 2013 at 7:43 am

Actually, I don’t think it would be a problem on the iPad 3 or 4, due to the higher resolution screen. Though perhaps you feel that the 10″ screen is not large enough to show the finer details on a 2 page spread well enough.

Anyway, I just wanted to check if it was on the horizon. Thank you for the quick response :)

By Stephen Few. September 4th, 2013 at 8:44 am

Valdimar,

I have the latest full-sized iPad. It is unfortunately far from possible to read a two-page spread on such a small screen.

By Valdimar. September 5th, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that I decided to order a hardcover copy from Amazon. Asking about an eBook edition was more about not having to wait around for the shipment to arrive and since you say it would a sub-par experience, I sprung for the real deal.

Looking forward to having it in my hands!

Best regards,
Valdimar