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How to Balance User-Centric Design Needs with Next-Gen BI Project Requirements

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How to Balance User-Centric Design Needs with Next-Gen BI Project Requirements

Take a moment to go to almost any web page and try to ignore all of the extremely aggressive marketing campaigns, banners, pop-ups, and big red buttons. I’m willing to bet that you’d say you had a poor user experience on one of these sites, yet companies continue to use these tactics in an attempt to reach their short-term financial goals. This is a great example of badly balanced user-centric design and project requirements, and the end result is something that sounds promising for the company while all but ignoring the user and their needs.

There are examples of missteps like these in the BI world as well, most commonly when a new feature is implemented. Imagine a situation where the product team and developers are excited about introducing a new feature that they think is a game-changer: the ability to sort tables by a word’s third letter. After several months of development, the new feature launches, and user feedback is almost instantly negative. Turns out, nobody really needs to sort tables by third letter, but what users do want is to be able to sort tables by date. All the time and effort spent adding the third-letter sort feature was wasted, and this could’ve been avoided if more time was spent thinking about and talking to customers about what they want—not about what’s possible to develop.

I often feel that, as a UX designer, you’re playing the role of a mediator between the user and the rest of the project team to avoid this exact scenario. What the user needs and what the stakeholder needs may be radically different, and it’s the UX designer’s job to keep the focus on the user so the end product incorporates features that users actually want or need. So how do you strive for user-centric design while also ensuring that it aligns with the project and vision of the company?

Before the project gets underway, keep the focus on the user by developing personas, or a representative user for a certain category. Understanding what that persona needs, how they access your product, and what their challenges are can inform much of the development process. Do you need design for desktop or for mobile or for both? Add new capabilities or fix existing ones? With a persona to reference throughout the project, you should be able to define whether new features will be useful to that user.

In the B2B industry, you should also consider if the existing product or feature is useful for a customer, and then think about next steps for continuous improvement. If a customer needs help with their current product, take a step back to think about who the user is and why they might not be properly using it. Is solving their problem an easy fix, or is the current iteration of the product pretty much useless for the user? Depending on the results, it may be more worthwhile to spend time updating a component that really makes a difference for the user, in lieu of launching a brand-new update.

However, there’s no substitute for direct user feedback. To get even closer to understanding what your users want, you need to reach out to them and have an actual conversation. User feedback is priceless at every stage of a project, because it can help guide current and future efforts and ensure that the company’s development resources are properly allocated to what the user wants, not what sounds flashiest.

It can be hard to balance project requirements with a need to focus on the user. With exciting new features and capabilities emerging constantly, it’s tempting to cram as many new things into a product as possible, whether or not a user wants them, needs them, or even knows they’re there. Remaining focused on user-centric design ensures that development efforts and company resources are being spent appropriately and on the things that deliver the most value to the customer.

Written by GoodData Author  | 

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