What Is A Dashboard

I’ve started a new series on data visualization:

There are a few things which make dashboards useful:

  • Ideally, the dashboard is a “single pane of glass.”  By that, I mean that all relevant indicators are visible on the screen at the same time.  With my car, it’s close but no cigar:  I can see one of miles traveled, average fuel mileage, or current fuel mileage at a time.  If I want to see a different item, I need to hit a button on the steering wheel to scroll through those options.  By contrast, the TV show dashboard has everything on a single screen with no scrolling or switching required.

  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are readily apparent.  For the TV show dashboard, we have a couple key metrics on display:  episode rating and number of votes as sourced from IMDB at the time I pulled those numbers.

  • Relevant KPIs are bunched together in a logical fashion.  On the top half of the dashboard, we see two visuals relating to average rating by show.  The bottom half show rating & user vote counts for the three highest-rated shows.

  • Layouts are consistent between dashboard elements and between related dashboards.  On the TV show dashboard, bars and columns use a single, consistent color.  Also, shows have thematic colors:  Daredevil in red, Jessica Jones blue, Punisher black, etc.  If I had a second dashboard for season two, I would want to use the same theme.

Read on for more details about what a dashboard is and some of the sundry forms of dashboards.

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