Almost every digital dashboard uses color to indicate KPI states. Often the indicator is a little ball or box that is red, yellow or green. Dashboard designers struggle with end-user clarity issues such as color blindness, printing on a black and white printer, or simply too many different possible states. Thanks to a Dashboard Spy out there interested in server status enterprise dashboards, we have this screenshot of a remote server monitoring panel that has 7 possible states. To deal with the color issue (color blindness or printing on a b/w printer), we see that the red/green/yellow balls have symbols inside of them. There is a "no data" state that is represented by a black ball. The "disconnected" and "stale data" states have different slashes in opposite directions, and the "misconfigured data" ball has a question mark.
Homework: Usabilty is key when presenting to the end user through a dashboard. Study up on the discipline of usability. Start with these usability books.
So what or who is The Dashboard Spy? As his about page states, The Dashboard Spy is just a guy interested in the design of enterprise dashboards. He could not find any executive dashboard design source books (or even screenshots of real business dashboards) and so set about creating his own. Finally convinced to post his extensive collection of dashboard screenshots online, he was amazed to find how popular it has become. If you have a nice screenshot of a digital dashboard, balanced scorecard, or any business intelligence graphic to share, please send an email to info _at_ dashboardspy.com. Also check out The Dashboard Spy's favorite books.