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Chris Gerrard – Exploring the world of Better Business Intelligence

Improving Dashboard Insights’ “Best Dashboard of 2011”

with 6 comments

Dashboard Insights announced its winner of the best dashboard of 2011 contest

This post describes some of its flaws, and adjustments that improve its ability to communicate the salient points.

The winning dashboard was created in Tableau and published to Tableau Public, where it’s available for viewing and downloading.

Note: Tableau Public dashboards can be functionally embedded; this one’s too wide to show it all, so the Dashboard images in this post are reduced reduced to fit. Click on any of them to connect to them on Tableau Public.

The winning dashboard:

Dashboard Insight Winner - Best Dashboard of 2011

The redesigned dashboard, also on Tableau Public:

Redesigned Dashboard

The Dashboard zones:

The following image shows the dashboard zones identified for redesign. Descriptions of the adjustments made, and the rationale behind them, follow.

Dashboard Zones

1 – Bar Charts

2 – Upper Section

3 – Month Selector

4 – Activity Types

5 – Last 12 Months

6 – Spend vs Budget

7 – Bullet Graphs

8 – Retirement Plan

Additional redesign considerations:
Additions – elements added to redesign.
Harmony – making the parts work together.
The redesign documentation has been moved to Better BI.
The blog format isn’t particularly amenable to large format stuff.
The links above connect to the correct locations on Better BI.

Please put your comments here. (easier to manage)

Written by Chris Gerrard

December 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. For the most part I like your changes Chris. The bar charts at the bottom definitely make comparisons across categories easier.

    I also really like the variance chart on the upper right.

    However, the Budget, Spend and Variance table should be in dollars. Rounding up would not be appropriate for a banking account like this.

    I also suspect that Mike’s intent, though he would need to confirm, is for making it more of a “lookup” view rather than for analysis. That would explain the differences in effectiveness between his viz and yours.

    Definitely keep an eye out for future contests and get some vizzes entered. There typically aren’t too many contestants.


    Andy Kriebel

    January 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    • Hi Andy, I’ve changed the values in the table to show the cents, but haven’t included the $ symbols.
      Putting in the cents seems reasonable to provide a consistent and meaningful level of detail.
      Adding the $ symbols add little semantic value since all the numbers in the dashboard, but for the Retirement chart scale, are monetary and their presence imposes an additional cognitive load.

      I left the cents off of the payment analysis bar marks. It seems like their main purpose is to identify the fractional relationships between the sources of payments vis-a-vis the Monthly Expense, in which case adding the cents adds visual bulk that exaggerates the lengths of the bars far out of proportion to the benefit. And the details are available in the tooltips if desired.

      Chris Gerrard

      January 4, 2012 at 9:16 pm

  2. I would sort the months in the opposite order. The most actual at the top.


    January 3, 2012 at 6:24 am

    • Michal, if by “most actual” you mean “most recent”, I agree. Putting the most recent, hopefully current, month in a consistent location is highly desirable.
      Designing good date selectors is difficult; there are many factors to consider.
      In this case, the underlying premise is that the dashboard will always show the same number of months: current month, and the preceding 10; this is likely not to be the case in a real-world dashboard.

      Chris Gerrard

      January 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

  3. Hi Chris,

    Highly enlightening post and analysis. I never cease to be amazed at improvements that can be made to most vizualizations! I think this will make a lovely data viz case study or project for a varsity course in one of our varsities running the Tableau educational program.


    January 9, 2012 at 3:24 am

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