I know what you’re thinking data and haute couture shouldn’t really appear in the same sentence it is oxymoronic. However, I beg to differ. Gigabytes of numerals floating around in databases from first glance isn’t really all that appealing. It is when you get those numbers together that you start to see something, and when those numbers are presented back that is when it gets really interesting and in some instances it becomes high fashion.
I’m working on a data visualisation project that looks at how we can present usage data to our customers. As with everything digital a simple project can become huge. The first question that arose is what comes first – do we focus on the data type, do we focus on the presentation of the data or do we focus on the environment in which that data will be presented. As it turned out none were right, as we guessed, it was what does the customer a) want information on b) how they want it and c) when they want it!
With this a hypotheses (to be tested by the insight team) looks at the what, how and when was developed. Some of the interesting considerations to come out of it included the question of how much data should we present. Do we provide drill down options, should we got down to granular level? My approach with entities that have not been fully tested or/and used before is to put in the mandatory elements as a first phase project and then implement a Scrum iterative process to incorporate could haves, would haves etc. This approach meets with the transient nature of digital and is (within the scope of a project) the continuous optimisation approach that should underline any digital proposition.
The other consideration that is playing on my mind (until I get more findings from Insight to throw up even more considerations) is the look and feel and the navigation on both web and mobile platforms of this data visualisation. To keep things simple (I’ve found it helps move things along) I have looked into some ideas that can be easily adapted to mobile environments.
Screen wide experience is visually impacting with the use of expressive and engaging visuals. However, what I want to do is for the page to keep the user engaged not just a brief smile and then on they go. With this in mind using a background like a landscape on top of which you overlay a dashboard of data made a lot of sense. This would be further enhanced if the data presented could link through brand or context with the background – creating a ‘story’.
Simplification is key and focus should be on the visual representation of data (a picture paints a thousand words) rather than weighty text cluttering up the scene. The initial proto-types I went at like a kid given a pair of scissors and before you knew it there was the same information in a simplified snapshot – easy for users to digest and ‘act’ on.
Another consideration was the navigation through the data, although there are minimal routes at the first phase (just displaying core data). The way you get from one bit of data to the next greatly enhances the customer’s journey and ultimately their experience. When I got my first Mac and was fumbling through in the difficult transition from taught behaviour to intuitive behaviour I remember being delighted at the function to scroll through my files in a pictoral format. This sped up search, provided a quick route to what I needed and was interactive. It was this that made me think that there is no reason why this shouldn’t be applied to the data visualisation.
By allowing users to ‘swipe’ through the visuals by going left and right and then go back to home by swiping up or drilling down into the data by swiping down seemed logical and intuitive. I am greatly looking forward to firstly pulling together some creative on this and then testing with customers to see whether my experience and the assumed preference promoted across the industry is actually the case when it comes to the customer.
Data is beautiful, the manipulation of it is an art and the presentation of it haute couture. I am sure there will be more blogs on my ongoing love affair with data.