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gilgongo

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #1 
I've designed a computer systems information dashboard for use by the technical department in the company I work for. This uses as much best practice as I can muster, and has been well received by the stakeholders I've shown it to. 

However, one thing that took me by surprise is that while they agree with my muted colour scheme (to allow alerts to stand out while being easier on the eye otherwise) they want the dashboard to have a black background. This is "so that the display is easier to read and generates less heat". It's designed to be hung on a wall.

It occurs to me that I've not seen any serious examples of black dashboards though. Is there a reason why most are on white, or near-white, backgrounds?

No biggie - just curious.

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sfew

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Reply with quote  #2 
I've read all of the research that I've been able to find that addresses this issue and have only found one situation when a dark background provides a perceptual advantage, which is when people are viewing the screen in a darkened room. When you're in a darkened environment, your eyes adjust to the lack of light by dilating the pupils to take in more light. If you then look at a screen that is projecting white light, it is too bright and therefore hard to look at. In all other situations, light backgrounds seem to offer a slight advantage over dark backgrounds for perception. The use of power is a different matter, however. Some screen technologies (not all) use less energy when displaying a dark background. If this is the case with the screen that you'll be using, you'll need to determine if the perceptual loss is worth the energy savings.

The fact that your dashboard will be displayed on a large, wall-mounted screen introduces another consideration, which is that people will view it from a distance. This means that you must display things larger than usual to overcome the problem of distance. To design the dashboard properly, you'll need to know the distance from which people will be viewing it and then run tests to see how large things must be for easy perception.

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Stephen Few
gilgongo

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for your prompt reply, Stephen. The research you refer to would indeed seem to be consistent with what they've said about the ambient light for the dashboard (which, incidentally, they call "the cockpit"). The screen will be in the network control center (NOC) which they like to keep dim for some reason I've not asked about yet.

Thanks for the pointer on making things larger to compensate for distance - I think I'll try running some tests with paper prototypes to see what size the devices I've designed will be best at in the limited screen space.

This reminds me that I have another question about the design, which I shall post in a separate thread.

Jonathan






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