Are there any innovative ways to potray a Burn Rate. Ie how many dollars you are currently spending per time period and your target burn rate and the max burn rate for a certain runway? This might be used to keep track of Software as a Service purchases, cloud services use, or maybe even human capitol for a VC funded organization.

What I am trying to arrive at is a symbol that might be universal with minimal verbiage.

I thought of the following design, and also played around with sort of a gas tank guage idea with three $ signs at the top end and one $ at the bottom. Are there any other ways to display this.

burn rate drawing enter image description here I am also working on text only portrayals, but my goal is sort of a instantaneous snapshot that would allow one to glance at it and get a sense of the burn rate and any adjustments in say 5 seconds or less. Ie if i am burning 1 gallon of fuel per minute on a boat I can drive for X minutes or something of the sort. (this seems to be a poor analogy)

Also please comment if you have any suggestions for the tags, I am having trouble thinking of proper tags for this question.

  • the image doesnt seem to work Aug 4, 2016 at 20:51

2 Answers 2


Do not ever use unlabeled icons.

They may make sense to the developer, but how many websites/apps have you used with unlabeled icons that you just skimmed over, didn't understand, and then probably never used again?

And less anecdotally: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/icon-usability/

Remember that users spend most of their time using other peoples' apps, NOT your app. This means their expectations are formed by other apps.

As far as I know, the population of users familiar with burn rate icons is miniscule.

The population of users who could benefit from some kind icon (flat design $ symbol on fire?), with a text label: literally everyone (who is not vision-impaired!)

Users don't share your thought process; users' thought process is based on what they've ALREADY experienced. The fact that you'r asking us for a solution, should be convincing enough that there's no industry standard from which you can rely on an icon only.

Icon + Label is the way to go.

This also gives the advantage of making the design of the icon you choose less important. But if it's called burn rate, you might as well be literal (so as to ask users to think as little as possible, by preventing them from processing sophisticated metaphors) and draw money that's literally burning.

Note: perhaps you could use $ + flame behind it, and have a bigger flame with more full, vibrant colors for "target burn rate," (with a label of course), and a $ + flame behind it that is smaller/more subdued.

Graphic assets

Burn rate


  • Great idea with the $ and fire symbol for the burn rate. very initative. The reason I wanted to avoid all text is because if they are already looking at a wall of text, it will just blend in like a giant excel sheet. Imagine if all the instruments in your dashboard were numbers and characters. Where Looking on the left i know the shape of the thermostat on the bottom right is the fuel the middle is the tac the left is the speedometer etc. Aug 5, 2016 at 17:21
  • I am still trying to think about how to combine the $ and the fire icon or burning for a burn rate. I made a terrible sketch with a campfire under it last night that wasnt very straight forward. Aug 5, 2016 at 17:23
  • 1
    @FrankVisaggio Image ideas edited in for you.
    – HC_
    Aug 5, 2016 at 17:48

Do you have a set budget and schedule? Then a burndown chart makes the most sense. The burndown shows budget on the Y and Time on the X axis. You can create an optimal burndown line (which in the case of a budget you want your actual graph to stay above), and basically track the consumption of the budget over time.

They are usually used in Scrum to track remaining work vs days available in a sprint but I think it's a good visualization for tracking budget usage over time.

If there is no set budget, use a burnup chart and track dollars spent over time.

If there is a set budget but no set time, the burndown helps extrapolate when you will be out of funds based on historical spending.

enter image description here

  • theres no hard set budget, its just to get an idea of the burn. One might be interested to know, based on this burn rate of cloud services when Will i have to procure more funds, or based on the staff of X, when do we need to secure VC funding by roughly. Or if they are just curious to see what they are using. Ie 50k a month in aws charges may be shocking if the team was always around the 4-5k range. What I am not fond of in regards to a burn down chart is its very hard to glance at it and get the instantaneous velocity, ie you have figure out the slope or calculate it. Aug 5, 2016 at 17:19

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