Stephen Few 2012 Perceptual Edge Dashboard Design Competition

Back in August this year Stephen Few opened up a competition to Design a dashboard using a defined data set for several purposes:

Quote”

  • A showcase for the current state of expert dashboard design.
  • An opportunity for me to use the submissions to teach best practices by critiquing several of them on this website and in the second edition of the book Information Dashboard Design, which I am currently writing.
  • An opportunity to provide sample dashboard designs that could actually be used to improve the quality of education in schools, for this competition involves the design of a dashboard that could be used by teachers to monitor the performance of their students.”

Full guidance, rules and specifiactions  of this competition can be found at http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=1308

I wanted to share my thoughts and design process for discussion .

Design Process

Thoughts

Design Ideas

My Competition Submission

I believe the definition of the competition as defined in the Excel spreadsheet can be summarized as:

Design a dashboard that would be used by a high school teacher to monitor student performance. The particular person who will use this dashboard will ordinarily look at the dashboard prior to each class session to update awareness regarding the students in that particular class in an effort to prevent or resolve problems and to help each student improve as much as possible.

Information has been provided for a single Algebra 1 class, along with some summary information regarding the entire school and the school district, which can serve as context for evaluating this class’ performance. Concern yourself with the design of the initial dashboard that this teacher could use to rapidly monitor what’s going on with her students in preparation for the day’s class.

After reviewing this brief I approached the challenge from the perspective that as the user will be engaging with the information daily, and therefore I want them to be alerted to “Which Students need focusing on today”.

I am fortunate enough to have attended Stephens’s workshops in London a number of years ago and he critiqued one of my early dashboard designs in front of the class.  I do subscribe to the majority of his visualization techniques and have used this insight to build out a set of key themes which should drive an Action.

I have  laid out the dashboard in a number of quadrants:

1.1     Quadrant One

  • Students to focus on TODAY
    • Attendance
    • Behavior
    • Achievement

The primary focus of this quadrant is to clearly identify the students that the end user needs to focus on that day.  This quadrant is divided into 3 areas, Attendance, Behavior & Achievement and laid out in a way to allow to allow easy identification of the students that need focus (Red traffic Light) and identify commonality of students over multiple areas

1.2     Quadrant Two

  • Attendance

5 Worst Performers This Term

  • List of the Bottom

5 students in the areas of Days Absent & Days Tardy with a Class Average number to allow comparison

  • Behavior

5 Worst Performers This Term & Last Term

  • List of the Bottom 5 students in the areas of Discipline Referrals & Detentions with a Class Average number to allow comparison.

1.3     Quadrant Three

The primary focus of this quadrant is to clearly show students who are currently below the class average in the particular areas with a trend to show if the current score is linked to a declining trend and thus be a cause for concern.

The subtle highlighting behind the Sparkline starts at the data point of the Average score up to a maximum of 100%. This technique allows the end user to quickly assess that even if the student is listed as below average at one point in the time series displayed is there a cause for concern.

  • Achievement – Below Average Students

Students listed all have a below average current math’s assessment score

  • Standardized Math Assessment Score

Trend of math’s assessment scores from the 6th Grade to 9th Grade and the Latest score.  All displayed in %

  • Assignment Scores

Trend of math’s assignment scores from assignment 1-5.  All displayed in %

  • Achievement – Declining Students

Standardized Math Assessment Score

Trend of math’s assessment scores from the 6th Grade to 9th Grade and the Latest score.  All displayed in %

  • Assignment Scores

Trend of math’s assignment scores from assignment 1-5.  All displayed in %

1.4     Quadrant Four

The primary focus of this quadrant is to clearly show students who are below their personally set Course Grade Goal.

The use of a bullet chart and data table allows the user to easily identify students currently running behind on their course grade goal and their previous performance.  All displayed in %

  • Achievement – Students with Course Grade Off Goal
    • Current Score, Goal and Previous score

This button will navigate the user to a different interface offered by SAP BusinessObjects to allow them to free format explore the data set via a web browser

This button will open a Help screen offering a glossary of terms, contact points and other pertinent information

1.5     Technology Used

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards, formally known as Xcelsius

And the winner is …..

The winner of this contest can be seen with a full explanation at   http://www.perceptualedge.com/blog/?p=1374#comment-296665

Great design but my only comments are as follows:

1.  Can you really gain actionable insight in 5 seconds of reading ?

2.  Can this design become a reality outside of photoshop ?  The winner replied to my question about technology as follows:

Quote ”  @Andrew: as I mentioned, I am really lucky that I work with some super talented programmers who do the real heavy lifting in taking my designs and making them work. This can be in a variety of technologies, from .net to apex to sharepoint to straight html5/jquery. I’m just happy I don’t have to do it, and am amazed that they can!”