Who am I?

Gary Elsbernd

Sometimes I get an idea that won't leave me alone. Whether these ideas are about design patterns, technical development or implementation, archery or science fiction, the elsblog is where I put my ideas and hopefully share them with the world.

I am a passionate advocate for user centered design with more than 30 years of experience. In my current role as Principle Experience Designer for Sun Life (US) based out of the Kansas City office, I am particularly interested in usability and performance centered design in web and mobile applications. 

Dashboards: Ideas with Action

To quote a Japanese proverb, vision without action is a daydream.

I was working on dashboards within a logfile collection last week, when I was challenged how to determine the right components for the dashboard, and had several insights.

  • There is not one "dashboard" - there are dashboards for each stakeholder. The data of interest to each stakeholder depends on his or her entry perspective.
  • Dashboards are meant to provide a synopsis, not the whole story.  A user needs to be able to identify issues at a glance, with as little involvement as possible.  Pie charts, bar charts, and averages all provide a high level indicator that can be drilled down if something looks amiss.
  • The level of information isn't the same across stakeholders. Trends over time may be significant to an executive, but an engineer may need specific details at the transaction level. A system wide response time number is relevant to a user who knows tolerances and expected values, but a global number may mask small components within the average. Drill-downs, trends and thresholds are all contextual to the user viewing the dashboard.
  • It isn't enough for the data represented to be interesting. Seeing where in the world our users are connecting from may be interesting, but have no impact on me or my plans. I have to be able to act on the information, or I am just presenting trivia.

This leads me to my overarching recommendation on dashboards:

"Identify the highest level of visualization for each stakeholder that provides meaningful information, leading to action."