Here at Geckoboard HQ, nothing (except maybe doughnuts) makes us happier than a well put together business dashboard because we know it literally has the power to transform organizations simply by making the most important metrics immediately available and actionable.

But what are the most important metrics – those elusive KPIs? And how do you visualize them so they’re easily digestible?

Hey, we’ve been there too, trying to figure all this stuff out. And on that winding road, we picked up a few books on subjects like analytics, design, data visualization, and KPIs.

But who’s got time to read a load of books?

Don’t you worry. We’ve narrowed it down to just two essential titles. The cornerstones, if you like, of your business dashboard education.

The one about figuring out your KPIs...

Lean Analytics – Alistair Croll & Ben Yoskovitz

Croll and Yoskovitz use a framework that helps you figure out the difference between good and bad KPIs so you can find ‘The One Metric That Matters’ and set your targets with that in mind. Although the writers are startup veterans, their approach can be applied to any size organization with equal success and is illustrated brilliantly through various case studies.

"A good metric changes the way you behave. This is by far the most important criterion for a metric: what will you do differently based on changes in the metric?" Alistair Croll & Ben Yoskovitz

Buy Lean Analytics here. Super short on time? [Watch this video instead] ( where the authors take you through the main concepts of the book in seven easy lectures.

The one about making your dashboard look the business...

Information Dashboard Design - Stephen Few

Few’s book does a great job of getting to the essence of what makes a great dashboard. It’s a comprehensive overview that covers both the nitty gritty details of designing great charts as well as how best to stitch them together into a dashboard that works for you. Some of the examples don’t lend themselves that well to the wall-screen display format we love, but the principles are sound nonetheless.

"A dashboard must be able to quickly point out that something deserves attention and might require action. It doesn't need to provide all the details necessary to take action, but should make getting to that information as easy and seamless as possible." Stephen Few

The final section of the book is a particular highlight, where Few shows off a few example boards based on his principles, as well as detailed critiques of less well-designed ones. We’re such big fans of his work that we even implemented Few’s creation – the bullet chart – in Geckoboard!

Buy Information Dashboard Design here.

What books have you read that were useful on your dashboard journey? Let us know in the comments below.

And look out for our upcoming blog post with additional reading recommendations that will make you a dashboard expert in no time!

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