As a strong advocate of design-driven visual experiences, I believe that good designs have a telling impact on business operations and consumption patterns. Creating intuitive and engaging designs around reporting tools, technologies, and project phases are the key to holistic data visualization experiences. At the heart of this design revolution is a successful amalgamation of art and technology that results in storytelling with data.
Maximizing Insights and Minimizing Clicks
Visual communication offers an innovative opportunity to create stories for positioning brands, products, and use cases in an engaging, visually appealing, and creative way. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and with that motivation, enterprises have to create visual stories with the help of data and business intelligence.
A thorough understanding of brand values and user interactions is critical to create storytelling with data, with the focus of elevating the quality of user experience. A key determinant of enhanced user experience is for enterprises to meticulously analyze how users interact with their day-to-day reports and dashboards. Additionally, intelligently using best digital practices, design thinking, and human-computer interaction (HCI) methodologies is paramount to enterprises in their data visualization endeavors.
Visualizing data in a unique art form is aided by continued researches on design techniques, technical and customization possibilities across data visualization tools, such as Tableau, Power BI, MicroStrategy, SAP BO, Qlik, and Spotfire, along with web-based visualization libraries. This enables enterprises to build independent as well as integrated responsive solutions.
These solutions hinge on three major experience elements – simple, engaging, and actionable data (or, SEA data). To achieve SEA data, enterprises have to start by understanding and analyzing the KPIs and the metrics that require visualizing. This understanding ‘enlightens’ enterprises to then create ‘engaging’ visual experiences, which are highly intuitive. Data and experiences are connected by a narrative that does the explaining. The convergence of enlightenment, engagement, and explanation unlocks the true capability of the ‘art of storytelling.’
Figure 1: Art of Storytelling
Turning Data into Opportunities
The key to steadfast decision making is optimizing data with data visualization tools. In order to create a data-agile ecosystem, enterprises must opt for customizable data visualization solutions that follow the three tenets of SEA data.
Figure 2: SEA Data
Translating business requirements to simple, yet highly intuitive and persona-based user experiences is of paramount significance to enterprises. This can be done through brainstorming and white-boarding sessions to present conceptual mockups and various possibilities of building data visualization solutions across chosen reporting technologies. Also, it is important to have a thorough technical understanding of possibilities in setting these simple brand experience standards with the right design thinking principles, methodologies in order to maximize insights and minimize clicks.
While developing the initial design strategy for storytelling with data and crafting the overall experience flows conceptually, the thumb rule is to first identify the targeted user group – executive level user or analyst level user. Depending on the targeted group, enterprises have to build their design strategies that focus on developing engaging insights that are best suited to the user. Mentioned below are the key elements of engaging data.
- Personalized Experience: Enterprises must set organization brand standards, color palette, typography, and a responsive design approach.
- Summarized View: Enterprises must create highlighted and actionable executive insights for quicker turnaround.
- Detailed View: Enterprises must complement the key insights with expanded metrics for detailed analysis of a chosen KPI.
- Guided and Intuitive Experience Approach: Enterprises must engineer the right hover-over insights and drill-down user flows.
Engineering experiences for production release is an exciting transition process. It requires seamless transformation of the conceptual design to the final working product for users to help them gain real-time, actionable experiences that will aid their decision making.
The process starts with setting the right canvas layout, global color palette, and typography for either desktop or responsive development across the reporting data visualization tools sets. This is done by customizing tool charting/visualization components, introducing and engineering custom imagery/iconography for actionable and intuitive insights, and building overall engaging user experience flows from summary to detailed insights. The guided approach of hover-over and drill-down features enhances user experience, enabling users to make quick, actionable decisions.
Data visualization requires both art and science. It is viewed as a branch of descriptive statistics by some, but also as a grounded theory development tool by others. Data visualization thrives on creativity, while it aspires to make insights easier to access and understand. Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality by promptly thinking, and then producing. After all, as rightly summarized by Albert Einstein, “Creativity is intelligence having fun!”