Similar to Rapid XP, we will work through three consistent, engaging and collaborative steps while engaging with end-users, stakeholders, customers and management alike. Bringing together a diverse group of people from different areas provides us with an opportunity to get hands-on with their data problems.
1. Empathise & define
The path of gathering reporting insights allows us to anticipate the critical business questions users need to answer to enable their decision making. We look to identify key objectives, audiences, and the priority of their business questions. We have a set of methods to understand and frame the key challenges. This process sets the foundation for an information architecture that supports the dashboard creation.
2. Ideation: collaborate, visualise, storytelling
The design workshop
Drawing is a great way to learn from the end users of the dashboards. A quick sketch, graph or concept diagram is a great way to break the language limitations and keep a physical record of people’s ideas. The design workshop is structured as multiple rounds of time-boxed sessions. Each participant sketches one or more ideas, after which they present, discuss, sort and prioritise their ideas to the solution based on how relevant they are in answering user goals and questions. This is a critical process, it helps us to explore the possibilities, get familiar with the business problems and enable the end users to become familiar with the data. Together we make informed choices about the visualisation design, communicate ideas, break down silos and show participants how to challenge their assumptions. We’ve ultimately found that the best outcomes are achieved by running a workshop per dashboard.
During the pen and paper sketching session, we hand out a deck of data visualisation cards, showing the users common names and usage of those chart types. This toolkit provides a visual example, not only inspiring users on the visualisation possibilities and the best way to tell their story, but also to help them overcome the intimidating feeling of not being an artist.
3. Design and Test
One of the biggest challenges in leading the design process to create data products lies in the designer’s needs for deep insight into the data structure. This means understanding the raw data and the data pipeline to better uncover the technical feasibility and scalability of the design – a pure UX view is not enough. Our data analysts work alongside the designer to provide a more holistic view and help the designer explore the data potential and the technical limitations of the BI tool of choice. Pairing designers with BI developers effectively, just as we would pair designers with front-end engineers, is the key to success.
Session 1 – Low Fidelity design
Sketched ideas and solutions consolidated into a set of wireframes that are intended to capture the overall information architecture, and visualisation to answer the business problems.
Session 2 – Validation
Using the same participants as the original design workshop, the validation session is the opportunity for stakeholders to give feedback on the direction of the dashboards being designed.
Session 3 – Iteration
Using the same participants as the original design workshop, the validation session is the opportunity for stakeholders to give feedback on the direction of the dashboards being designed. It is not realistic that the problem will be solved in one workshop (or one workshop per dashboard), we take time to work with the stakeholders and users to thoroughly understand their challenges.
Session 4 – High Fidelity design
Similar to a web app product, the designer will take the opportunity to visualise the full breadth of the experience. It is not only a UI design exercise, we also cover how the user interacts with the visualisation, how they drill down to find more details, what level of flexibility can the visualisation tool provide to enable different roles of the user. Given the varied constraints of BI tools, it’s imperative to capture the core functionality of the dashboard up-front whilst leaving room for the BI developer to have a level of creative freedom.
Session 5 – Design validation
Finally, we validate the designs, in the same format as the first validation session. With high fidelity design of the final products, we encourage the technical feasibility discussion to be included at this stage.
Design handover to implementation
This is the final phase before moving to development, with the high fidelity design and style guide the developer will be able to start prototyping with data and build intuitive, visually stunning dashboards.
Authors: Servian Design Team