Is UX Important To Business Intelligence Analytics?

Is UX important to business intelligence analytics? How do the two relate? Here's what to know about the connection between user experience and BI.

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December 11, 2018
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“Data is what you need to do analytics. Information is what you need to do business.”– John Owen

A simple and effective user experience unfolded with clear and crisp user interface goes a long way in making the user happy and satisfied. Especially, when it comes to the world of business intelligence dashboards, a good user experience plays a significant role. It isn’t always necessary to overwhelm the user with complicated user interactions. When it comes to representing BI analytics in an industry segment, the line between a good user experience and a complex one is very thin. As an apt confluence of art, psychology, technology, and intellectual sciences, a perfect user experience is all about understanding user expectations and perceptions that are needed for embedded dashboards and reports.

“BI is about providing the right data at the right time to the right people so that they can take the right decisions” – Nic Smith

What Does User Experience (UX) Encompass in the World of Business Intelligence?

Both UI and UX are meant to offer a definite focus to recreate real-life experiences augmented with technology. As they say, the first impression is the last impression. That is so true! User experiences are all set to allure and engage the users and play a pivotal role in unleashing the potential of business intelligence analytics to its finest. Here are some of the most evident benefits that UX offers to the software development arena, making it one of the most sought-after experience.

  • It draws the clients to the enterprise, converting traffic into sales
  • The popularity of mobile and web apps have a direct relationship with the UX design
  • A suitable and reliable experience guarantees long-term association
  • Enterprises are interested in investing more in UI / UX design and development

What does a Good User Experience Mean?

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

Before we go into details of how important is UX to the BI arena and what principles need to be followed, let us understand what we mean by a good user experience. Here are certain parameters that help us ascertain that the user experience being offered is of superior quality and will be instrumental in the success of the application:

  • Seamless and realistic user onboarding to keep certain parameters and engaged
  • of superior to ensure increased conversion ratio and draw more visitor traffic
  • Visitors spending more time and flowing in context of their own likings
  • Contented and engrossed clients, spreading satisfaction to others, increasing base
  • Clients using the app, again and again, increasing their loyalty and retention quotient
  • Understanding and showcasing user preferences, personalization services to clients
  • Gelling well with SEO activities to ensure web presence and increased traffic/downloads

What Does a Good Dashboard in Business Intelligence Mean?

For a good dashboard to work successfully, it needs to showcase certain characteristics, as below, only then can we say it is a well-created dashboard:

  • It needs to be rich, instinctive and customizable
  • It should communicate information swiftly
  • It should showcase trends in information over different periods
  • It should be able to present widgets and other components in available space
  • It should be scalable, usable and visually appealing

Risks Associated with BI Analytics Owing to Unplanned UX

  • Application Insight Can Become Disappointing

Even though the rest of the software development arenas could be well planned and well made, if the UX isn’t up to the mark, entire perception of the BI application that the user carries will not be worth it. The look and feel of the application can impact its success story to a large extent.

  • Users May Avoid Using the BI Solution

For any set of embedded reports and dashboards to succeed, they need to be extensively used. If the users are happy or comfortable with the UX, they are most likely to avoid using it increasingly. That directly impacts the performance and acceptance of the UX design.

  • Peers May Gain Business Advantage

Today, when UX is such an important part of any project, if neglected, can lead to a business disadvantage. This may give the lead to peers in this competitive world offering you less business in comparison.

  • Showcasing Data Without Context

Displaying data without context is sure to confuse BI users and affect the effectiveness of the application. An ineffective UX may lead to ineffective qualitative and quantitative analysis and thereby reduce the interest of the user.

  • Inconsistent Label & Colour Usage

For a good UX to work wonders with BI tools, consistency plays an important role. Correct usage of labels and colors is very crucial to understand and analyze data else users are sure to misunderstand the huge piles of information.

Guidelines for a Perfect Business Intelligence Dashboard Design

“If the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work.” —Susan Dray

  • Display User Understandable Terminology

After all, it is the user who needs to be satisfied. The terminologies used in the dashboards and reports need to match the ones used by the end users in their industry segment. This helps them understand the output faster and that too effectively.

  • Start with Basic Information and Drill Further

It isn’t necessary to showcase all information at one go. Follow a hierarchical approach that showcases the basic details at first go and can drill down further, as needed, based on parameters. Follow requisite visual hierarchy to make a life of the users easy and simplistic.

  • Mark A Goal for Analytics and Start with That

You must prepare a fundamental objective of why and what does the BI Analytics aim for and then start off the designing of UX. This shall give a proper user perception to the entire designing right from the beginning, marking it the right way.

  • Testing and Prototyping is a Must

However perfect you are, right from the beginning, it is almost impossible to create dashboards and reports that are exactly as per user needs, in the first go. Testing and prototyping the same will help in building a product that suits user needs, at the closest.

  • Showcase Information Based on Priority

Everything that you show seems important, but it is not actually so. Certain priority must be set as against each parameter/characteristic and based on that, the entire design should be developed. Important parameters should be displayed on the top so that they attract maximum attention. The rest can follow as per requirement.

  • Understand Difference Between Types of Dashboards

It is important to perceive the different types of dashboards that need to be implemented in any BI application. Since the purpose of dashboards could vary, it could make a direct impact of the design of the UX. If you have a monitoring dashboard, the focus is on real-time data and there is no straight implication on the information. Whereas if you have an interactive one, there is a direct handling of data by users. Both these categories need special attention with respect to user experience.

  • Don’t Clutter the Dashboard Too Much

Sometimes, designers tend to fill in all available space on the dashboard. Don’t do that. It is not necessary to over clutter the entire dashboard with information. Let there be some free space, logically, to give proper attention to highlighted information. This is sure to make the user focus on the right chunk of data.

  • Design a Consistent Outline

Follow consistency in the user experience that you wish to offer. Have a constant way of showing design elements, tabs, graphs, colors, titles, formatting text etc. This offers a steady experience to the users visually and makes them explore further. Embed animations as needed for a better visual impact but only where necessary.

  • Be Careful About the Height-Width Statistics

In the BYOD arena, the BI analytics could be viewed on any type of device. Hence it is very important to be careful about the height and width statistics while designing the application. It needs to showcase the same report layout on every device.

  • Keep Guidance Documentation Handy for Users

However much you try, users may need handy guidelines for better utilization of the BI reports and dashboards, at least for a start off. Thorough documentation and easy guidance are a must at any needed point of time.

Short & Sweet Tips to Keep User Experience in Business Intelligence Analytics Straight and Simple

  • Keep UI & UX intuitive, communicative and perceptive
  • Discuss and finalize the UX with subject matter professional
  • Do not attempt to overwhelm the user
  • Integrate only functioning features
  • Fetch real-life objects with the UIs to the digital arena
  • Ensure proper collaboration between humans and technology
  • Focus on UI first to make the UX also look gratifying

Wrapping It Up

A good UX -> good dashboard -> good decision making -> good business.

In the arena of UI / UX development, an effective UX acts as a catalyst to dashboards in offering their optimum through user-centric designs. Following the above-mentioned guidelines while building the UX of your business intelligence analytics will help to win your user over. What’s your thought?