The "Best" Worst Dashboard of 2010

on January 11, 2011

It's hard to make beautiful dashboards! We will be the first to admit that we occasionally put out some less than perfect work when we're short on time for beautification. That said, we do pride ourselves on making sure that our vizzes make sense, at the very least. From the amazing visualizations we see everyday on Tableau Public, we know we aren't alone. This viz, however, leaves us with more questions than answers.

If this dashboard were to be reduced to one failure, it would be needless complexity. The cone you see below is a perfect example. It is attempting to show the ethnicity of students enrolled in a college, but all it does is raise more questions. A bar chart or even just text on its own would be an excellent way to display these five simple numbers, but the author instead turned it into a 3D cone. This has the effect of skewing the tip of the cone to look smaller and skewing the base of the cone to look larger. For instance, even though White students make up almost half of the total, their area in the chart looks less than 20%. Even a pie chart would be better!

The color choice and labeling on this gender distribution pie are both pretty helpful but the 3D is just superfluous.

Color legends are pretty important for vizzes that include, well, color! Without one here, I have no idea what this viz is showing, besides that it has something to do with admissions. Also, 3D again?

We saved the best worst for last. If you click on "Admissions Scorecard" in the top nav of the dashboard, after you wait for about 20 seconds for the view to load, you will see this speedometer/odometer pair. To make things easier to understand, while loading the speedo shoots past its current total, then below it, for extra effect as if the admissions "car" were speeding and then braking and then increasing to its current level. The odometers also take their sweet time ticking their way up to their totals. Speedometers have been torn to pieces by every living "viz master" for their uselessness, so I won't drone on there. My main gripe is that it takes a good 30 seconds to see a valid view when text could load in one and be easier to understand.

This dashboard has some more interesting viz choices, click off and check them out if you want.

Until next time, Viz Police out!