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Do You Need an Animated Dashboard?

Given the tone of most of the posts on this blog, you may be forgiven for thinking that the instant reaction here will be that animation should be avoided at all costs. However many business intelligence software applications can use animation effectively, but only if applied appropriately and in moderation.

To many people, the concept of an animated dashboard sounds chaotic, distracting and slightly gimicky. The vast majority of us want functional dashboards that give us the data we need with the minimum amount of hassle, and in the clearest manner possible. When considered in this way, an animated dashboard sounds exactly the opposite of what we might want.

There are a number of caveats when it comes to animation on dashboards. If you create a flash chart, it should be for a valid and functional reason. All too often users are seduced by the fun features of animation, and stick such charts in wherever they can without any thought for function. Animation for animation’s sake is basically a waste of time. A movie showing your chart appearing out of nowhere and building itself in segments is not really informative. Your audience will simply be waiting for the movie to stop so that they can analyse the completed chart. Like annoying unskippable cut scenes in games, for the first one or two occasions it will be a novelty and then it will start to get frustrating.

Unfortunately dashboards are not designed to be entertaining. If you do choose to use animation in your dashboards, make sure that it adds to the impact of your chart, instead of being a gimicky sideshow.

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