The Dashboard Spy

May 15, 2006

Sales & Marketing Performance Dashboard – What not to do on a Dashboard – Carrying the dashboard metaphor too far

Filed under: Dashboard Screenshots — Tags: , — dashboardspy @ 9:52 am

Here is a performance dashboard screenshot that is full of information critical to sales and marketing departments. It has plenty of good metrics and KPIs like win/loss ratio, sales pipeline, top performers, lead status, pipeline, compliance and top performing media.

The information gathered is good. However, the interface leaves me shaking my head. I’m sorry to say it, but this is an example of what NOT to do. I’m about to rant now, so look out. Some dashboards are great, but others are just dogs. I have a pet peeve about the literal use of the dashboard metaphor. It was fun and perhaps even instructive for the users to grasp the concept, but only for a brief period back in the early days of the business dashboard. Note that the date on this dashboard screenshot is 2003. Dashboards as a concept were around for a long enough time by then that the use of an automotive dashboard graphic theme was inappropriate and amateurish. I believe that this dashboard product is still in existence so some poor users are still driving their business like a driving video game. Please correct me if I am wrong and send me some updated dashboard screenshots to show me that the product has been updated.

Why show an actual steering wheel in your dashboard? It “drives” me crazy. Dashboarding has grown up and users “get it”. No need for heavy-handed use of the dashboard metaphor. For fun, I think I will look for other steering wheels in executive dashboards. If you have any screenshots, please send them to The Dashboard Spy.

Enterprise Dashboard Screenshot

PS. IF you want to see one that implies the metaphor without showing the actual steering wheel, go to the Virginia DOT Dashboard.

Homework: I know that graphic design doesn’t come easy for most technical people or business users. If you are on a dashboarding project and have some input on the design of the dashboard, you must study up on the basics of graphic design before you weigh in. Start with the book titled The Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture, and Type. As one amazon reviewer states: “I am a software developer by trade, but I also do graphical design for user interfaces and web sites. I can’t afford to absorb a large amount of material on this subject just to extract the essentials. This book is exactly what I need. The book is short, sweet, loaded with excellent examples and it teaches many of the essentials in an easy, enjoyable manner.”

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_ Also check out The Dashboard Spy’s favorite books.

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