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hasaneser

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Reply with quote  #1 
Below is a design study by me (taken from the actual sales dashboard in use in our contact center) for displaying multiple metrics at once in a confined space, with their values displayed over different time series (inspired by the example in "Information Dashboard Design").

multiple KPI.png 

The red arrows pointing down mean "month-to-date cumulative value is less than compared to the same period of previous month and this is a bad thing". I chose not to display green arrows for values that have improved in order not to unnecessarily distract the viewer. No red arrow means things are improving :)

I have also omitted the vertical axis not to clutter the graphs as they are tiny enough. Instead, I have provided horizontal reference lines to aid the perception for the order of magnitude. The graphs are mainly intended for displaying the trends over time, the exact values can be displayed with a mouse-over.

And finally, I have added white vertical reference lines to the daily graphs on the right depicting the start of each week.

I would highly appreciate any suggestions/comments for improvement.

Hasan


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Hasan Eser
sfew

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hasan,

Several potential improvements come to mind, most of which I'll let others address. For now, I'd like to focus on a single issue regarding the red downward-pointing arrows, because they represent a fundamental problem that I see in many performance-monitoring displays. An arrow appears when the current month-to-date value is less than the previous month's value at the same point in the month. If by this point in the current month we've sold 553 items compared to 554 last month, is this necessarily bad? Values go up and down to a certain degree based on random variation and also due to routine causes such as seasonality. Does it make sense to cause an alert to show up in such cases? Performance monitoring is only effective if we focus on variation that actually indicates something that we can affect. Beating people up over routine variation is not only useless, it's harmful.

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Stephen Few
hasaneser

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Reply with quote  #3 
Stephen,

Thank you for your comment. I agree that such slight variations should not raise alarms. I will discuss with my business team as to what extent variations should be tolerated before raising alarms and modify the pop-ups accordingly.

Thanks again.

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Hasan Eser
wd

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Reply with quote  #4 
As Stephen indicated, normal variation is no cause for alarm or for a call to action.  Consider the principles of statistical process control for establishing the difference between normal variation and special cause variation and then set the alarm criteria on that basis.
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Bill Droogendyk
jlbriggs

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Reply with quote  #5 
While it is not unattractive, I think there are some problems, visually.

The first thing that I would change is the bars vs. lines.  Both graphs measure time series data, and should both be line charts IMO.

I would lose the bars, and I would lose the area fill on the daily chart.  A single line series for each chart, with a moderate line weight and a color that is a bit more salient (a darker grey, a moderately saturated blule, etc). 
Perhaps to differentiate between the monthly and daily chart, the line weight of the monthly could be heavier than that of the daily.

- The gradient on the daily area fill is very distracting.  I already mentioned that I would remove the fill altogether, but I would avoid this type of gradient in general

- The repetition of the category title within the daily chart is also distracting.  I would not repeat it at all, but if repetition were needed, I would not do it within the chart with the faint grey that leaves a kind of 'ghost image' effect.

- The threshold line labels are also a distraction the way they overlap the plotted data.  I would move the label to the end of the line outside of the plotted data area (centering the label vertically at the line itself)

- The number at the left, with the indicator arrow, I would replace with a bullet graph.  This gives clear indication of how far above/below the previous number the data is, without the need to worry about when to set the 'problem' indicator.  It is exactly the type of scenario that the bullet graph was made for.

It's clear that some thought and effort went into this, and it seems like it is probably a move in the right direction.

I think that some of the measures add to much clutter, and making them subtle in this case doesn't really help, because it adds clutter that ends up being hard to see, so the user will actually spend more time trying to figure out what they're looking at.

The fading effects that result from the gradient as well as the diminishing greys across the chart give the impression of an image that has been faded out for use on a report cover, or something other than an actual presentation of the data.
hasaneser

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Reply with quote  #6 
Jlbriggs,

Thank you for taking the time to elaborate on my design.

As for the reference lines: the labels are placed automatically by the software that I use (QlikView), so unfortunately there is no way for me to place them elsewhere. Do you think it would be better to lose the reference lines altogether and bring back the vertical axis?



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Hasan Eser
jlbriggs

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Reply with quote  #7 
Tough call.

The reference lines certainly add value.  Not being able to configure the label is definitely not a good way to set up software...

I would lean toward keeping the lines despite the clutter of the label, if that's the only way to have a reference line, but I would also be harassing my software company to give me the tools to customize my layout.
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