Again working to improve the user experience of a mobile advertising web service, the challenge here was to present as much key performance data in a single view, including AJAX-driven pagination of potentially large amounts of campaign data to preserve that view and minimize disruption of the user experience.
The requirements were presented in the form of the application’s existing reporting interface, a basic field set and visualization chart component:
While this user interface allowed users to generate relevant campaign report data and visualize performance as a function of time, the reporting section as a whole required more navigation than the client felt was necessary. My task was to consolidate some of that visualization into a single reporting dashboard.
Users of business software who have a stake in growth and returns are aided immensely by any software tool that gives them a high-level look at the results of their efforts. The challenge of presenting the user as many options and as much data as possible within a single, easy-to-read view is what led to the original dashboard interfaces that have become so popular in the last ten years.
To solve this problem and create this user interface, I researched many different dashboard interfaces and data visualization component vendors. I also researched online advertising user requirements in general by visiting competing vendors’ applications as well as independent advertiser and publisher forums to get a better feel for the numbers people found to be the most meaningful. The prototype that resulted from this research appears below.
This prototype offers users the following advantages over the original interface:
- It replaces some list menus with text link filters, consolidating mouse actions and indicating the user’s orientation within the data
- Makes use of type as variable to convey information (text link filters are bold when selected, important bottom-line KPIs are in larger type)
- Repetitive tabular data (launch full screen of prototype) is styled for quicker scanning as well as to indicate sorting
- Icons used sparingly as preattentive variables to help the user distinguish navigation items before consciously addressing them
- More reporting data can be accessed from this single view without the expense of visual clutter
After undergoing a few rounds of iterative improvement, which included intuitive pagination controls for areas which would potentially contain large amounts of data, the prototype was implemented live in the application, and it served as a model for other reporting interfaces for different users of the application.