Brilliant books for data driven dashboards and interfaces

Finding the right way to present data is often trickier than getting the data itself


3 minute read

Twisted ropes

Finding the best way to present some data can be really tricky. So today let’s look at a few books which are packed with inspiration and advice for data visualisation. Designing data driven interfaces requires you to think about the design, aesthetics and information portrayed by your charts. So, to help you on your data journey, here are some recommended books to inspire and guide you.

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte

This was the first data visualisation book recommended to me by my first manager and its one I’ve been back to time and time again. Probably the benchmark when thinking about data visualisation books, it’s quite possibly the book on the subject. If you can only get one, get this. The book is packed with 250 illustrations of the best (and a few of the worst) data visualisations you can find.

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Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring by Stephen Few

So, you probably know I’m a fan of dashboards! This book is focused on designing interfaces to allow for the quick and acurate relay of lots of data. If your dashboards are suffering from chart after chart of meaningless data, drowning out the useful information that is contained within, then this book is for you!

If you’re going to buy more than one book on this list, I’d buy a Few.

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Design for Information by Isabel Meirelles

This is a beautifully presented book covering the display and visualisation of structured data. It has tons of examples, including infographics, maps and graphs. The examples are a real mix of historic visualisation and more modern interpritations, so there really is something for everyone. At 224 pages long, it’s great value and a quick and easy go-to for data presentation.

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Understanding the World: The Atlas of Infographics by Sandra Rendgen

The author, Sandra Rendgen, has a diverse background as an art historian and has worked for both print and interactive media. It’s a huge book, over 400 pages packed with examples and tips. It’s definately one to have for the coffee table (note - you’ll need a strong coffee table)!

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Good Charts by Scott Berinato

This book is a great summary of data viz in general. Berinato includes frameworks for thinking about the context in which visualisations will be shown and using this to maximise their impact. Viewing charts and visualisations as a communication medium is critical to ensuring that your message is clear and unambiguous - as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Let’s end this post listening to Scott speak!

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