Dashboards or Charts?

On his Membership Marketing Blog, Tony Rossell has a post about membership dashboards. He provides a link to a chart that shows all kinds of membership information. I noted in the comments section:

"…I must take exception to the use of "dashboard" with the example you provide. A dashboard, at a glance, provides instant information to the reader. For example, when I glance (not study) my car's dashboard, I can instantly tell if I'm going 60mph vs. 20mph by the direction of the speedometer dial.

The charts you provide are just that: charts. Dashboards give you an instant reading; charts require studying."

This isn't the first time this has come up for me. Several weeks ago I had a lengthy discussion with an esteemed membership colleague of mine, who was arguing the same point as Tony. I contended then, and I contend now, a dashboard gives you instant information, at a glance. If you have to study it, it's not a dashboard. And incidentally, dashboard information should be up-to-the-minute. Imagine if your car's dashboard provided you information about how much gas you had yesterday, instead of how much gas you have this minute.

This is not to belittle the need for the charts that Tony describes. Those data sets are important. But let's not call 'em dashboards; let's call them charts or reports.

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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