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I've got a dashboard module that display summary totals across 4 categories. I'm wondering if it's easier to distinguish magnitude by rendering data in size order (descending) or keep fixed category positions.

The color categories are necessary for other status indicators they map to elsewhere (due to NDA, I can't show)

ordered by size

or by fixed category position: enter image description here

or would it disorient users to see render ordering change? to me, it would be easier to see skewed distribution by reordering.

Any feedback re: best practices for data viz would be appreciated.

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There are a number of considerations here, and reviewing them for your dashboard should help you come up with the right decision.

  • Fixed position for the categories can help with remembering the overall content and referring back to it more easily.
  • Ordering categories by quantity can help with identifying specific pieces of information (in this case the highest and lowest quantities) and referring back to it more easily.

Considering the content in this module with respect to other items will help you work out which design will fit in with the overall story better (i.e. is this module intended to highlight the highest item or show overall pattern).

Lastly, consider what the most important decision or data required from looking at the information from this module is. Is it about the highest category, how much higher the highest category is compared to the others, the variation or something else? The graphic you use should highlight this, and a bar chart isn't necessarily suitable.

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If those graphs are updated from time to time

Use fixed position since helps the user memorize the label position of each column.

(imagine that I'm only worried how Veggies are performing. I would be frustrated if it changes its position and I need to look for it everytime data changes)


If those graphs DON'T update from time to time

Render data in size order (descending or ascending) since the user will always see the same data and helps identify quickly which categories have higher and lower results.

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I would fix the position of categories but you could possibly offer a sort button to give users the option if they really want to use it?

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