After my last post where I spoke about the increased business demand for analytical applications (the next evolution of dashboards), I wanted to follow it up with this post to discuss the importance of user experience (UX) when developing and deploying such content.
Business users are demanding that business intelligence (BI) and analytical applications employ the same level of experience as consumer apps.
I've been in a few design workshops over the last year where users have stated they want things to look and behave like their favorite apps they get from the app stores (both consumer and work-related). Historically, analytics and BI content has certainly been heavily influenced by the following elements:
- Business analysis, The good old requirements gathering phase, though there's thankfully been a shift away from classic “functional specs” toward design thinking methods, including wireframes which are mentioned below.
- Data visualization best practices, Think of Stephen Few and Edward Tufte and their respective writings on how best to display information.
- Wireframes and prototypes, Great for bringing concepts designs to life, making the solution tangible for users and a basis for getting started with the agile development process.
While these elements continue to be important factors, analytics and BI content must also adhere to wider principles and approaches to UX. As previously mentioned, business users expect to consume their information and analytics in the same way as everything else (news, social, banking etc.).
The developer I've been working with on a recent sales information app project constantly asks the question, "What will deliver the best user experience?" whenever we discuss adding new capabilities and features into the solution we are building.
UX has to be at the forefront of analytical content delivery, it's fundamental to usability and adoption, the latter being the most critical metric of any BI initiative.
A key way to ensure the best UX is to engage users throughout the whole design and development process. To learn more tips for improving UX, check out this eBook.