Dashboards Redux

Last year, James Martin and I wrote an article for The Testing Planet about low-tech dashboards. Even though James has now left Campaign Monitor and flown to the other side of the world, the power of the internet has enabled us to bring you this nostalgic review of dashboards past.

The basic idea was that we wanted a simple way to convey things like risk, perceived quality and testing progress to the rest of the team. We also hoped to involve them in discussions about these things. So we started drawing these dashboards on the big glass whiteboard in our company’s lunch room.

A classic “state/progress” dashboard. I like this one – excellent use of colour. I give it 4 stars.
Probably the best compromise between form and function. I think the excellent use of colour was a function of us not having lost the red pen at this point.

I rate it ‘Elephant’.

The “Risk” column was a nice idea here and it attracted attention from developers. But the “Releasability” column had a lot of question marks, right up until the end of regression testing. I wonder if this dashboard was much too large. Two stars from me.
Releaseability was our attempt at a meaningful adjective that could be used across purposes. Never quite worked as intended.

I rate this ‘Fried Egg’

Beautiful. I think this conveyed an elegant yet simple message of “the test team has too much time on their hands”. Incidentally, after this I went back to a really simple dashboard and [Campaign Monitor founder] Dave G complained that there were no pretty pictures anymore. So I drew him a pineapple.
Totally love this one. Our best work by far.

Also takes the prize for ‘best setting for dashboard defaced by a comedy wang’.

I rate this ‘Tiger’.

This one claims to be “new and improved”, and it looks like we’ve invented the word “ression”. The question marks are gone but it’s only good for regression test planning. I think it could be more useful. 2.3 pineapples.
Pretty full fat. This one really radiates a lot of information without necessarily conveying any extra subtle meaning or sparking a lot of conversation.

I rate this a Fried Egg.

This used to have a number, showing the number of days until stuff was ready for release, but then the number became zero, then negative one, then this. I like the simplicity of it. 4.5 starfruits.
Great use of popular culture. I get a real Andy Warhol feel from this dashboard. It speaks to many different aspects of both the development, release process and our mental state.

Turtles all the way down! This is definitely one of my favourites. Do you remember what all the turtles meant? This one attracted a lot of discussion. 5.6 stars.
This was such a good board. I believe Dave G also rated this as one of his favourites.

I think the turtles started out as metaphorical representations of the functional areas they relate to and ended up as a representation of the state of that area. It was pretty crazy. Jackson Pollack would have approved, just before throwing a bucket of paint over it.

Information in a box. I don’t think it says anything really useful and I don’t think it’s pretty. One star.
This was a perfect example of ‘developer friendly’ dashboarding. No nonsense, utilitarian form. I kind of liked the sentiment but would have preferred more flying creatures.

I think this may have been when all the projects were on hold, in order to sort out production issues. This seems accurate. Plus I believe this was a Jesse Dodds design, so I give it a Dribbble rating of 126.
Agreed. This one was a great juxtaposition of design and test land dashboards. I’d like to see more collaboration in future.

This is just a sample of some of the many different dashboards we made over the last year. Do you have a dashboard you’d like to share? We’d love to see it!