What is a dashboard?
While most people are familiar with Stephen Few's pioneering work on bullet graphs and other visualizations, I think an equally important contribution is Stephen's definition of a dashboard. He defines a dashboard as following:
A dashboard is a visual display
the most important information needed to achieve one or more objectives
that has been
consolidated on a single screen
so it can be
monitored at a glance
In the book, he goes on to describe common pitfalls, some background theory on how information is perceived by the human brain as well as how to conduct a project for dashboard design. An equally important concept for a novice like me was the Ink to Data ratio, and I can see how some of my previous efforts could be improved substantially.
There are many important sections in the book on ways to start and optimize a dashboard and coupled with Ralph Kimball's suggestions on design of drill downs in a dashboard, I think it provides excellent design principles and patterns for how to think about dashboards.
In summary, I think all the information given is extremely valuable, and this book will be sitting on my shelves for a long time.