Over the last several months, we have discussed how the user profile of the stakeholders and their functionality requirements and business content needs have dictated the choice of framework for the corporate performance management (CPM) dashboard. This month, we will focus on how some of the more visual aspects of a CPM dashboard (such as color harmony and highlighting, and icon guides) contribute to a more positive business user experience and facilitate business user empowerment. Given the complexity and sheer volume of information that needs to be synthesized, how the information is architected, navigated and presented is as critical as the information content itself. Empowering the business user to identify, measure and manage the key drivers of business success - the proverbial needle in the haystack - is the true barometer of an effective performance management dashboard.

Color is an important aspect of the dashboard's visual design from multiple perspectives. The look of the dashboard, navigation trails and drill-down options are all impacted by the selected color theme. It is important that the selected color theme facilitate information access and be as unobtrusive as possible. The differences between a high-contrast vivid color scheme and a low-contrast subdued color scheme are illustrated in Figure 1. Although the bright colors of the vivid color scheme might be appropriate for highlighting problem metrics and values, the more subdued colors deliver a color harmony experience with visual interest and a sense of order and should, therefore, be incorporated in the design of the dashboard interface.

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