I have been working on a dashboard where a chart and a table are requested. However, both would contain the same data.

For instance, it is required that a country map is shown, with the values of each state color-coded. But it is also required that I show the same info in a table next to this map.

To me, this is clearly redundant. Visualizations were invented to understand tabular data faster and gain a better understanding.

The feedback I get is that "the client is table-person". This doesn't really hold its ground. "What if this particular person at the client leaves and someone who is chart-person takes his place?", ".... well then add an option to toggle between the chart & the table."

To me, this sounds like we're giving the user one more choice to make before he even starts to work with the dashboard. And not to speak of the additional (although trivial) programming involved.

How do you handle situations like this?

  • 4
    Chart and table are not mutually exclusive and showing both is absolutely not 'clearly redundant'. 'Visualizations were invented...' sounds nice, but having an intention to improve X doesn't mean that everybody is better off with X. Not everybody understands visualizations better than other ways of showing data. Not to mention the visually impaired... Nov 26, 2012 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


When it comes to dashboards, choice is likely a good thing.

Dashboards are intended to give information at a glance, in a format that is easy to understand. The issue here is that what is "easy" for one person to comprehend is often difficult for another. Indeed visualisations were created to assist understanding, but the fact is that for some people, visualisations are actually more difficult to understand than tabular data. You hit the nail on the head, what if the whatever-person leaves, who knows what sort of person takes their place?

Allow representation of the data in as many forms as possible, and build to allow the addition of representations in the future, as they may well be requested. Display one representation as a reasonable default, but allow the user to toggle to whatever display(s) they prefer. Save that preference. This allows a user to customise their dashboard to allow them the greatest productivity.

This customisation represents a learning curve at first, but after it has been completed, the overall effectiveness and affect of the interface will be at its highest for the user completing the customisation.

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