Style of representing data plays a major role in interpretation by humans. The “Design” factor in any presentation has an invisible effect and exerts either strong or subtle influence on reader’s perception based on the content layout. In BI context, design has to be taken seriously because the end product will be used by people to make decisions. Here is a funny take on UI/UX, which sarcastically reminds that “Design Thinking” is an important trait today for a practitioner in BI space.
Style, Color and Aesthetics can convey different meanings in different contexts, for example picking red font color versus green can imply drastically different perceptions. It is important to pick only required and ensure that unwanted elements are kept off presentation in order to give a clear and concise picture about the KPI. The ultimate goal is the to project maximum information with minimal data. Read more about data to ink ratio concept discussed by Edward Tufte in his books, which provide many examples of optimal data representation styles.
Style #1: Plain Number
This representation style that does not convey more that what is shown. Care should be taken to keep aesthetics such as font, color etc blended with overall theme. Goal here is to keep user’s attention on the actual value presented instead of calling attention to non-critical areas. Many fail to realize that just good font size and style can convey more to the user than artistic effects.
Users who predominately work with numbers such as Accounting and Finance have requirements that are heavy on numeric style of representation, similar to the one discussed in this post. A good example from personal viewpoint is the “Total Account Balance” value in a bank statement, where I personally get heebee jeebies if the value is highlighted in red color.
One wonderful example below shows a group of KPI’s without much noise. It is simple, elegant and communicates everything to the point.