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Why Charts Can Be Useful Inside A Dashboard Table

When visualising the typical dashboard layout, most of us will be familiar with the standard division between charts and tables. Generally a dashboard tab will consist of one or more charts, which will occasionally have tables attached to them to provide supplementary information. However it is not uncommon to find simple charts contained within these tables also, especially bar and line charts.

Placing a chart inside a table can provide a wealth of information that would be almost impossible to include effectively otherwise. It also means that the import of the data can be quickly and easily understood by the dashboard user, who obtains a clear and immediate overview of the figures involved. Typically horizontal bar chart elements are inserted into the table, next to each data entry. The magnitude of the bar chart element next to each entry indicates how this data point compares to the other entries on the table, based on a given KPI. For example if each column on the table focusses on a different KPI, a bar chart element of a specific magnitude will have to be placed in each column attached to a specific data point, allowing its performance in terms of each KPI to be instantly compared with the other data points in the table.

The efficacy of these charts can be increased if colour coding is also used. For example you can highlight underperforming data points using a specific colour, which is usually red. Of course performance is determined by each perfomance indicator, so any given data point may perform well in some areas but poorly in others. If you are already using bar chart elements in each KPI column, it is straightforward to highlight underperforming chart elements by rendering them in a different colour.

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