Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
A Quick Look at Dashboard Design Principles
Figure 1-5 shows the same data without the fancy formatting. Not only is the chart easier to read but
also you can process the data more effectively from this chart.
Figure 1-5: Charts should present your data as simply as possible.
Here are some simple tips to keep from overdoing the fancy factor:
➤ Avoid using colors or background fills to organize your dashboards. Colors, in general,
should be used sparingly, reserved only for information about key data points. For example,
assigning red, yellow, and green to measures traditionally indicates performance level.
Coloring sections of your dashboard only distracts your audience from your message.
➤ De-emphasize borders, backgrounds, and other elements that define dashboard areas. Try
to use the natural white space between your components to partition your dashboard. If
borders are necessary, format them to lighter hues than your data. Light grays are typically
ideal for borders. The idea is to indicate sections without distracting from the information
➤ Excel 2013 makes it easy to apply effects that make everything look shiny, glittery, and
generally happy. Although these formatting features make for great marketing tools, they don’t
do you or your dashboard any favors. Avoid applying fancy effects such as gradients, pattern
fills, shadows, glow, soft edges, and other formatting.
➤ Don’t try to enhance your dashboard with clip art or pictures. They do nothing to further
data presentation, and they often just look tacky.
Skip the unnecessary chart junk
Data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte introduced the notion of data-to-ink ratio. Tufte’s basic idea
is that a large percentage of the ink on your chart (or on your dashboard) should be dedicated to
data. Very little ink should represent what he calls chart junk: borders, gridlines, trend lines, labels,
backgrounds, and so on.