Tutorial for Tools 019 – Segmented Dial Gauges
Using the Gauges
Dashboards are used to show a point-in-time snapshot of a company's health and/or status. Dashboards can be comprised of data-driven charts, qualitative charts, maps with color coding to show rankings for regions, or gauges, like those in this series.
You can use these gauges in place of moons (harvey balls) or other quantitative (data-driven) or qualitative (perceived value) charts. You can add as many needles as you need to each gauge and give them different colors. This way you can show two or more measurements on the same gauge (use a legend to distinguish between the gauges).
These frameworks are offered as EMF and PowerPoint downloads although a specialized layout in PowerPoint is required to allow for the spin animation that moves the needle. See the animation section below for specifics.Therefore, it's important to note: the EMF download is the gauge only; the PowerPoint download is formatted so that the needle can be manually spun or animated to spin. The needle is grouped with a dot (counterpoint) with no fill and no line color. This counterpoint makes it possible to manually spin the needle into position without it wobbling out of place. The counterpoint also makes it possible for the needle to be animated. The download has a small amount of instruction included, which you can just delete after you read it.
Customizing the Gauges
Group all elements of the gauge and size as one field holding the shift key down to resize/scale. If you have downloaded the PowerPoint version of these frameworks, be sure not to ungroup the needle group. It's grouped with a counterpoint so that it is easy for you to either manually spin or apply an animated spin to the needle. The needle group, therefore, spins in place without wobble.
The segments can be colored as you choose. The downloads are colored with green/yellow/red, from left to right. The green on the left signifies that it is better to have fewer. If you want a gauge to show that greater is better, you can either recolor the segments or group all of the components of the gauge (except the needle) and flip it horizontally. Then ungroup and continue to format as needed.
The downloads have a gray line and a color fill. If you want the red/yellow/green segments to be more pronounced, change the gray line to match the fill color of each segment.
We used black for the needle color because of the green/yellow/red colors on the gauges. We didn't want the needle color to be the same as one of the colors that communicate value. Black also provided the best contrast to the dial background. If you decide recolor the gauge dial to match your company's palette, you will want to recolor the needle so that it contrasts well. It's important that the needle "pop" and be the most visible and distinctive part of the gauge. When you recolor the needle, however, be sure not to color the counterpoint (explained above). You can select fields within a group and color them individually, and we recommend that you recolor in this manner. If you do add color to the whole needle group and the counterpoint dot shows up, just select the counterpoint and reset the fill to "no fill" and the line color to "no line" without ungrouping.
The dials look very realistic when bevels are applied. The dial rims above have a bevel applied and the pivot point of the needle also has a bevel applied. They look pretty real! The other effects don't work very well with these frameworks: avoid using the reflection, glow, and softened edges effects.
3D does not work well applied to the gauges. The different fields on the dial don't layer well when 3D is applied. This is true even at very shallow depths.
Don't use shadows on this type of framework. When the needle spins, its shadow needs to move to look realistic. The shadow effects in PowerPoint don't do this well enough to appear realistic.
Gradients, patterns, and pictures
You can use subtle gradients to suggest a 3D effect.
The PowerPoint downloads have the needle pointing to the minimum position (lower left) and spin on one click to the maximum position (lower right). You can, however, change the spin percentages so that the needle stops at the desired position on the dial. This is sometimes a trial-and-error process. The spin percentage from minimum to maximum is 275 degrees (a little over three-quarters of a circle). If you want to calculate your spin mathematically, the 275 is the maximum spin (don't use 360 degrees). When you change the spin percentage, type in the number and press "Enter". If you do not press "Enter", the spin percentage that you just typed in will not not be set.