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on 30 March 2006
This book is something different from O'Reilly. Usually, you'd expect one of their books to plumb technical depths in order to supply the most detailed and complete reference tool for the application in question. As such, sometimes the books themselves can become quite difficult to read, and almost impenetrable for newcomers.
I'm glad to report that this book is not like that. Few writes with a casual tone, yet you are consciously aware that he is an expert in his field and he provides information at a steady rate, rather than overwhelming you with information. With intelligent use of figures and well planned chapters, this is a definitive reference tool for those who need to present data in graphical formats. So often when people produce graphs and charts, they end up like the nightmare Powerpoint presentation from Hell. Few gives practical advice on human perception as well as the relationship between information and visualisation that will truly help you to produce meaningful and appreciated dashboards, rather than the complex and downright ugly solutions that the author uses to show the worst examples.
If you are getting into Dashboard design, then this should be your primary purchase. If you produce graphical reports of any kind then this book is definitely worth a read.
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on 4 January 2008
Stephen Few nods more than a little to Edward Tufte when it comes to approaches to visual and information design, and this book is both a highly informative and pleasant read for that. While not quite in the same league as one of Tufte's works, Information Dashboard Design is refreshingly devoid of waffle and mere personal opinion. The design principles he identifies are not hard to grasp, and the theory and rationale for them is very well argued and presented. Few's invention of the "bullet graph" also ensures his place alongside Tufte in the field of information design.

We can only hope that his ideas will now catch on, and that the awful drek that infests the vast majority of dashboard designs by even the largest of vendors will be swept away forever. If I never see another big shiny gauge again, it will be too soon.
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on 29 March 2008
This is an excellent book and will change the way you look at how data is presented. I have struggled in the past trying to understand reports presented to me because of their poor design. The author offers a good mix of theory and practical examples, giving examples of poorly designed reports, pointing out their deficiencies and suggesting a better way of doing it. Overall it is a quick to read book that provides valuable insight.
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on 8 October 2007
I agree with the two other reviews that I read prior to posting. This is a great book that is well written. The example screen shots really show you the difference that can be made by using good design principles as suggested. If you are doing any dashboard design you need to read this book. Also what was really good was at the end there was just one page acknowledgeing other major authors in the area and suggesting their texts as well. This was really useful as rather than wade through all the references it gave you a snapshot of who Mr. Few thought were the best in his field. Brilliant. Can't recommend it enough.
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on 1 September 2008
I'm about half-way through as I write this review but I am already very impressed with this book. Few has an easy-to-read style that's not full of fluff or pompous nonsense, and he provides sensible advise for producing effective designs.

The book begins by defining the term "information dashboard": the definition is suitably broad that you may realise that solutions you've build before would fit in and would therefore have benefited from the design advice given in the book. To make his points about poor design, Few then uses a selection of examples found on the web. Many of these are eye catching and graphically pleasing - but the commentary makes you appreciate the problems each exhibits. In the middle of the book, Few describes accepted scientific theories about human vision, perception and cognition that we should take into account in our designs - and these generally support the arguments that the example dashboards used earlier in the book were poor designs in one way or another. Later in the book (and I have not read these chapters yet), Few provides practical advice that can be applied in dashboard design. I am expecting these to be almost self-evident by the time I get there thanks to the Background Few has provided me with. But I am still looking forward to reading them nonetheless.

This book is in no way biased towards any display technology, user interface technology or programming technology and is therefore applicable whether you are producing a single-user desktop application, a multi-user, multi-screen information wall (as you've seen in pictures of the stock exchange) or even if you are producing printed reports. The advice given is about the design thought process rather than any particular notation so is applicable regardless of the software design methodology you may use.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic and would say it's a "must-have" if you are practically involved in the specification, analysis, design and even implementation of Information Dashboards.
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on 28 April 2011
Beautifully presented and illustrated, the author guides you through common mistakes in information dashboard design before highlighting how these may have been improved upon by demonstrating best use of display options, be it the method of graphing or the use of non-data objects. Few discusses key points in relation to how to present information in relation to how human perception works, always striving toward the objective of presenting key facts quickly and efficiently. If you have read "Show Me the Numbers" also by Stephen Few, then you will find much of the content either similar to or a copy of that book, but with some new information added.

Whilst I do think that information dashboard design has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, I do still find examples that demonstrate the negative points Few raises; indeed I find these whilst looking back at some of my previous and current work.

In truth there is very little that the author highlights as new information, rather this is a well thought out and presented collection of best practices. As such, I do not regret buying it, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to others whose work involves the development of information dashboards.

However, if you tend to present tables and graphs as reports instead, then I would suggest "Show Me the Numbers" as a better alternative. Additionally, for a more indepth study into perception and visual information design, works by Edward Tufte or Colin Ware might be of interest. Stephen Few recommends these in his books, and after reading some of their works I can understand why.
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on 27 May 2016
I bought this book as a helpful reference guide for myself and a team of performance analysts who were looking at modernising a reporting suite back in 2010 to a more user friendly and informative visual dashboard style, moving away from the mass production of data-sheets. I found the book to be a valuable tool for helping to imagine and to plan analytical, strategic, visual reports, which could help to drive business improvement.
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on 16 December 2011
This book is a superb summary of the latest thinking in dashboard design.

You probably know a lot of it - that is the beauty of this book. It organises thoughts and experience into a practical 'how to' for dashboard design.

This is the theoretical work of design and presentation, please don't buy thinking that it will tell you how to use excel or SAP. The whole point is to help you tell people what they need to know in a way they can clearly see it.

If you are a consultant then buy the book. I read it in a day then got a contract to produce a board reporting pack for a company, they liked it so much they asked me to do the same for a subsidiary. The recommendations alone made me 100 times the cost of the book.

but beware, you have to have a brain and you have to be prepared to work to change your behaviour. A book is only as good as the person reading it and if you expect to buy this and have it design and execute a report for you without you doing anything then you will be disappointed.
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on 12 October 2009
This book gives easy-to-understand guidelines to dashboard design. What works and what does not. And why your design will or will not work. Simple a must for anyone who are about to design a dashboard.
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on 10 May 2011
An Excellent and well written book.

Users say they want dashboards because they think they look good and makes them look important. As a result, the standard design is one that "looks good" with plenty of 3-d pie charts and odometers or whatever other charts the developers can get their hands on - usually all crammed into a page with garish colours and metallic hues.

The usual end result is a dashboard that is very quickly un-used and un-loved.

This book is well written and provides plenty of excellent and practical examples of good and bad dashboard design. Hopefully will encourage people to design dashboards with utility in mind - I wish
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