In the previous blogs we looked at the business value of following a visualization standard like IBCS, and we looked at the first set of recommendations on topics like titles, messages, time, and structure.
This time we will look at the Top 5 item, which is about charts.
I am sure a lot of you now have a very long list of chart types in mind and start wondering about all those “pretty looking” charts, such as a Sankey chart, a Chord chart, slope charts, … and so on.
But..this is where IBCS so to speak “draws a line” and stays focused on a small set of chart types as recommendation. Let’s take a look at the chart types that are recommended and what the scenarios are for these chart types.
As you can see above, the overall set of chart selection is reduced to focus on chart types, such as column, bar, line, area, and waterfall. You might even have noticed, that a typical gauge and a typical bullet chart, which you probably have seen very often being used in dashboards, is not part of the suggested list of chart.
Most of you will have seen this chart selector and perhaps are even following it:
And I am sure that most of you also have at one point learned about the bullet chart from Stephen Few (https://www.perceptualedge.com/articles/misc/Bullet_Graph_Design_Spec.pdf) or have used some form of gauges in their dashboard before.
I also would like to highlight here, that all what we discuss are recommendations and let’s keep in mind that all opinions are of equal value.
So if you prefer a bullet chart, feel free to keep using it – but perhaps to take a look at a different point of view and a slightly different approach from Rolf Hichert and Juergen Faisst on the bullet chart and how you could share the same information with a bar chart and a variance, take a look at the article here..
And here the link to the more detailed slide deck:
So why should yo consider this approach ?
This brings us back to where we started and we looked at value of following a visualization standard in general.
- Reducing the overall complexity of your dashboards and reducing the number of visual elements overall will help your users to quicker consume the information and recognize and recall things faster instead of “reading” a dashboard.
- Sticking to a standardized list of visual elements and even sticking to a smaller list of charts will also help you in reducing the overall development time because you will be able to more make use of templates as part of your development process.
- You could make the point that by using a smaller set of visual elements, you are producing dashboards of higher quality, but I am also sure that this is a point of view that several people would disagree with and perhaps we can come back to this point when we look at some concrete examples and how we would “re-design” them following the IBCS recommendations.