Building a Better Dashboard

September 13, 2012

How do you fix a the problem of poorly designed dashboards? Why, start a contest urging folks to come up with a better one, of course. Stephen Few has issued that challenge, the 2012 Perceptual Edge Dashboard Design Competition, from his Visual Business Intelligence blog under the post titled “Defeating Bad Dashboards by Example.” One contender, Michael Schiff, has written about his solution at The Mashup, also titled “Defeating Bad Dashboards by Example.” Though Few specified contestants may use a program like Photoshop to create a mock up, Schiff chose to make his interactive. Kudos to him.

Few’s challenge is based in the teaching field, but we should be able to apply the principles explored by contestants to business intelligence and other fields. He writes:

“This will be the most challenging event of this type to date resulting in the most esteemed award for dashboard design (in my not-so-humble opinion) since I judged a similar competition for the B-Eye-Network back in 2006. . . .

“The winning dashboard will be featured in ‘Information Dashboard Design, Second Edition’, due out during the first half of 2013, and in an article in the ‘Visual Business Intelligence Newsletter”. No, you won’t win $10,000 or an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Bahamas. Instead, you will have an opportunity to advance the information age by showing a better way to display data for performance monitoring. In other words, you will have a chance to do something useful for the world.”

Ah, virtue as its own reward and all that. Bragging rights will just be the icing, right? The submission deadline is September 21, so hit up Few’s post for details if you would like to take part. Otherwise, check his blog sometime around October 10 for the winning design. I know I’m curious about the results.

Cynthia Murrell, September 13, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext


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