I recently purchased a 2000 Ford Focus. As with older vehicles this car comes equipped with a dashboard that rattles and hums. At a minimum this is annoying and at other times, darn distracting. Well this dashboard rattle and hum got me thinking about Excel (go figure) and Dashboard Noise(I am so enamored with the term that I am trade marking and copywriting it) Please pay me a penny every time you use the term J.
What’s Dashboard Noise? Well Dashboard Noise would be superfluous data, overtly fancy graphics, poor layout and distracting colors / fonts.
A dashboard should be clearly defined, easy to understand and most importantly, capable of conveying the information in a straight forward manor.
Let’s face it, we all like to play and Excel is our playground. We are the king of dodge ball in the Excel playground. Look into a mirror and tell me that’s not true.
As developers we take great joy in creating dynamic transparent fuel chart graphics juxtaposed against scatter arrays that are based in dynamic regression. Then we raise our hands like grade school children and say… “Teacher! Look what I have done.”
The end user marvels at our genius design but never uses the dashboard since it does not provide them an easy way to get the data they are looking for. Instead the ask Earl from Accounting for the sales forecasting spreadsheet.
It’s easy to lose focus on the basics of the dashboard, and let’s face it. It does not matter how fancy and fantastic the dashboard looks if it does not provide an easy way for the user to identify the information they are looking for.
So the next time you are creating a dashboard, try keeping the noise to a minimum. You may find the old saying KISS “Keep It Simple Stupid” has merit.
I know it does for me.