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This is a guest posting by Ceri Williams, who describes himself as ...
"A lean six sigma black belt that has been working in the Telecoms industry for about 13 years." 
For maximum impact follow these simple principles and guidelines when creating DASHBOARDS. 
The supporting excel file provides examples of how leading MVP’s use these principles on a daily basis.
Data distortion / misrepresentation
A chart may be accurate but if the underpinning data is out of context it’s pointless. Smoothed lines are great for identifying trends but can be misinterpreted as actuals.
Use easy to read fonts, sizes and formats for text inputs. Ensure text is proper (and not in upper or lower case).  Keep axis label alignment horizontal as it’s easier to read.
Keep charts as simple as possible.  Inclusion of unnecessary information pollutes key messages and adds clutter. Ensure the chart is the focus so the key messages are clear.
If you have multiple charts in your dashboard ensure they have a similar look and feel.  Avoid mixing formal & informal charts.  Avoid overpowering colours / themes styles.
Best chart selection
Chart selection depends upon the type of data you need to visualise and the key message(s) you want to get across. eg tracking trends & relationship : Pie  Column Chart Variations
Overpowering 3D effects
They may look funky but they should be avoided. They distract from the simplicity and they distort data visually.  As a result they are prone to confusion and incorrect interpretation.
Who is your audience and what key messages are important to them?  This determines which style you use (formal or informal) and the level of detail you contain within it.   
Removal of non-essential items
The more clutter you add to a chart (gradient backgrounds, full bodied axis lines, labels etc) the harder the chart will be to read.  They also have severe printing limitations.
Dynamic / interactive charts
Great for providing your audience with the ability to control the content within a chart.  To prevent confusion ensure controls are keep simple and intuitive to control .
Sensible scale and axis selection
Your scale / axis selection can have make a significant difference to the visual effect of a chart.  Incorrect selection or categorisation will distort trends and misrepresent the data.

The workbook contains examples from various source to illustrate the points outlined above.



Created August 2004
Last updated 5th August 2014 

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