I have two standard things I use to make status reports more effective; Trending and Graying Out.
Trending: Even on a simple dashboard the use of trending can help create context. Two most common ways I do this is a trending arrow and historical data.
- Trending Arrow: Instead of a simple color box for status, I also provide a color arrow that points 45 degrees up, flat or 45 degrees down to show if this item is trending good (green), flat (green) or poor (red or yellow).
- Historical Data: Showing trend over a few weeks can help executives to know if the data is good or not. Showing the results of a single development cycle tells you nothing really. Showing a trend line of bugs, work completed, etc. shows if things really are on track or not.
Graying Out: Sometimes data is still relevant, even though it is not new. The down side is this can make it so new information is hard to pull out. People see last week's data and assume no change, missing the new data. First off, always put new data at the top. Then any data that was in the previous report change the font to a gray that can still be read, while being different enough from the black. I'll often use a dark blue for new text and gray for old to create even stronger contrast.
I don't have any visual examples handy, sorry. All the ones I have contain proprietary data.