Running on Empty

I had a scary dream the other night. I dreamt that I was driving late at night, when my car sputtered and came to a halt. I tried different things, but the engine refused to start. Standing on a dark road in the middle of nowhere, I came to a sinking realization. My car had run out of gas. How had I not seen this coming? Was my fuel gauge broken?

Imagine if this was my real fuel gauge in my car’s dashboard. It is telling me all sorts of information about the (non-existent) gasoline in my car. I don’t need to know where the oil was drilled from before it became gasoline, when it was delivered to the gas station where I last filled up, or the name of the owner of the gas station. All I need to know is how much fuel I have left. This helps me plan how far I can drive.

Take a few minutes today to review your company’s dashboards. Look at every chart that is included. Think about whether the metrics captured are truly important and lead to critical decision making. If they are anything like my nightmare dashboard, it’s time to re-evaluate your design before you find yourself running on empty. Your dashboard should convey key metrics in a quick glance or two. Anything more and the important information may get lost. Make sure your dashboard is preventing – not causing – information overload. Your users will thank you for it.

Until next time, I’ve got to go and pull over at the next gas station. My “low fuel” light just came on, and that’s all I need to know!

Warren Singh– Technical Consultant, iDashboards

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