Then the team decides on the best solutions, always keeping the user’s goals in mind.
Am I on track to meet my sales target for the month?
This concept allows the sales manager to see at a glance where the sales are now, where they should be at end of month, and how far they will be from target. It provides both crucial daily numbers and insightful context.
This concept allows the sales manager to see all the open orders in a small space with details on demand. It’s very easy to spot big open orders or past due orders, which will provide direction for further actions.
Are any of my sales reps falling behind targets? Are their sales $ increasing or decreasing?
Next we create a working prototype to illustrate how the app would function, which helps us get user feedback.
his monthly target, I'd like to see if
This concept allows the sales manager to see the sales performance trend of all sales reps at once. Red indicates that actual sales is lower than needed per day to reach target. The sales manager can tell if a sales rep is having problems over time; or if there was a bad day for all sales reps.
Which sales opportunities can I convert? Whose orders are they, and how large are they?
he’s also behind his yearly target.
This’ll help me decide whether I need
To discover the best visualization concepts that will answer users’ questions, designers diverge and brainstorm as many ideas as possible.
to take further action.
When I check if a sales rep is behind his monthly target, I'd like to see if he’s also behind his yearly target. This’ll help me decide whether I need to take further action.
When I check if a sales rep is behind
Key Questions the Sales Manager Needs to Answer
Finally, we validate the designs with users, iterating as needed, and making sure we met their goals.
sales rep performance
The end result is users who need to tinker with spreadsheets and have
little confidence in their decisions.
How do you get back on track?
A: To make sure my sales are on track to reach store sales goals.
end of month forecast
How are my regions performing?
Who’s buying the most chefbots?
A: I look at
to see if anyone needs attention.
When users request data, it often comes back in spreadsheets that aren’t actionable.
Data is poorly formatted
sales rep performance
How are my commissions?
First we interview employees to understand the “why” behind their requests, needs, and problems.
Why do you check
end-of-month sales forecast
What are mygamebot sales?
What if you’re off track?
A: That’s hard! I wish I could get data on and find opportunities to convert.
Sales by rep
This bot retailing company has a traditional BI solution in place, which hasn’t been successful in meeting users’ needs.
First, let’s unpack the problem.
monthly sales target
Like for many companies, much of Bot On's data is accessible only by a few super users.
my monthly sales target.
Data is hard to get
Sales by month
I usually compare the company’s
my monthly sales target.
sales rep performance
Next we group users and define personas, since a data app’s value depends entirely on the users’ goals, questions and issues.
Just like having a typewriter won't make someone a great novelist,
having a BI tool isn’t enough to create great data apps.
We ran through 3 quarters of data in about twenty minutes!- Axis client
Our apps motivate and even excite your users, as they're intentionally designed to let them answer the questions we learn they need to do their job.
Sales Performance Application
To better understand how a design engagement works, let’s walk through a case study following Chloe, a sales manager at a robot manufacturing company.
At Axis Group,
Data, say hello to Design.
Fraud Detection Application
we use a team of data designers who are experts in uncovering users' real-world business goals and translating them into intuitive, insightful dashboards.
Employees trust the business information to proceed boldly and confidently, able to help themselves and be more productive.
Business analysts gather functional requirements and satisfy lists of data points - but they usually don't know how to map data to business objectives using effective visual analytics.
Axis designs intuitive visualizations that deliver instant insights without having to dig through tables or do offline analyses.
As a result, companies often end up with poorly designed apps that suffer from
low adoption, frustrating users whose
real-world needs just aren't met.
The typical development process results in apps that present lots of data but overlook real user needs.
We design delightful visualizations by moving companies from data-centric to user-centric.
When it comes to BI software and data apps, design is often viewed as an afterthought: Just layout, fonts and colors. But true design goes much deeper, enhancing how software meets the real business needs of your users.
Axis designers meet with users to see how they really work and the process they use to decide what’s really actionable.
Then we map those goals into intuitive visualizations and validate those designs with your users.
Axis clients take away . . .
Mockup: A static display of how an application will look and feel, with details such as color and font
Understand & Define
We like to compare it to a CX approach (Customer Experience)
Prototype: A preliminary model used to demonstrate or test the user experience and various task flows
Prototype & Validate
The screens we design evolve from wireframe to mockup to prototype
Diverge & Decide
User-Centered Design: the process of designing a tool, such as an application’s interface, from the perspective of how it’ll be used by a human user and support their already existing behaviors
By gathering the appropriate background information into a mission statement for the app, our design process has a target that stakeholders can agree upon and reference in discussion.
A few basic terms to add to your design vocabulary:
User Experience: a combination of tasks focused on bettering a product for effective and enjoyable use
User Interface: the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of a product
We translate business user goals into preliminary concepts and sketches that focus on answering users’ data questions. During brainstorming, we give users a concrete vision where the design is heading and invite feedback.
ValueWhat kind of applications benefit most from a design engagement?
Several factors increase the value of a design engagement for a data application:
The app’s complexity and the analyses and decisions it needs to supportThe number and complexity of actions that can be taken as a result of a decisionThe complexity of data underlying a dashboardThe number and different classes of users (personas)The number of measures, dimensions and KPIs in a solution
It’s just a BI tool. Why does it need design if it can just be built?
In the typical dashboard build, a company’s IT group focuses on functional requirements and satisfying lists of data points to display, but ignores the real questions users need to answer to do their jobs, i.e., streamlining actions to achieve actionable business goals. The result is a waste of time and money developing dashboards that are ultimately unfit for their purpose. [can link to examples of bad apps]
Axis’s design process methodology employs User-Centered Design to focus on users’ real-world needs to mitigate risk and helps avoid costly redesigns or later changes of direction.
Why should I spend all that money on design and just get those artifacts?
The primary deliverable of the design process is the process itself, which discover and document the real needs of business users. These goals are normally overlooked by a company’s IT group during an application build, which results in apps that are unfit for their intended purpose and suffer from low adoption.
The artifacts - business personas, mockups and prototypes - reflect a unified vision of your users’ real-world business needs for a data application.
With those artifacts, your company is ready to develop a data application that is more likely to meet your users’ needs the first time, saving time and money.
Why should I care that my users are excited to use a BI app?
You should see your employees as important internal customers and, just like for external customers, work hard to improve their Customer Experience (CX).
Employees should be delighted - even excited - to interact with the company’s data to answer their questions. Delight engages workers, motivates them and makes it easier to do their job well. That’s how good design improves productivity and efficiency.
What is the typical ROI for dashboard design?
Return on investment can be measured in improved productivity, reduced time to find answers from your data and motivation of users to engage with and trust company information.
On the other side of the equation is mitigated risk that a client will need to spend time and money redesigning an application after launch, since User-Centered Design makes it more likely that a data app will satisfy users' business goals the first time.
ProcessOur business analysts have collected and documented requirements in a BRD. Can your design team add some “sizzle” and make a compelling application?
A business requirements document that outlines functional requirements and data flow can help our design team understand a data application from a high level and provide general insights into the app’s purpose.
But a BRD typically does not provide detail about user’s real-world choices or their decision making process in the business. By itself, a BRD won’t allow designers to create a data application that effectively meets user needs. Remember, design is how it works, not just how it looks.
Thus a BRD can be helpful but doesn’t take the place of interviewing users about their work or the need to generate and test concepts with users.
When is the best time for a design engagement?
Typically, a design engagement has the most value in these situations:
New applicationsExisting solutions with low adoptionSolutions that have been through multiple surgeries by ITMigrations from legacy platformsApps that struggle to get into productionHigh-impact and high-visibility projects
Do you really need to conduct user interviews? Who should attend?
Our design process is person- and problem-based and depends on access to stakeholders. IT’s typical functional requirements process focuses on data, not people.
By the time you’re ready to build a data app, you should clearly understand your users’ behaviors, their needs and their goals — what drives them and what they are trying to accomplish. It is important to include in the process users whose needs can represent the needs of others, who are looking to answer similar questions.
Our design team is trained to uncover your users’ real-world needs and how they make decisions. This is crucial to create successful business outcomes.
Can interviews be done remotely?
We've found that design interviews are most effective when done in person, which gives us an opportunity to review existing dashboards and documentation with stakeholders. However, interviews can be done remotely where necessary.
How much design do I need to get a dashboard done?
Since every solution is different, you need “just enough design to get it done”. A good analogy is how much design to build something in the real world.
Say you’re building a vegetable bed; take some general measurements and go to the home improvement store for supplies, and you’ll be done designing and building in 2 hours.
Building a treehouse? Spend a weekend thinking of all the cool features you want, taking some careful measurements and considering the type of wood and structural reliability. Then maybe finish building in a month of weekends.
Renovating your home? This is where design gets tough - probably want an architect to talk about your requirements and draw up blueprints. If you’re lucky, you’ll have plans in a couple months and building done in several more.
What if my stakeholders are all over the place? Will this help?
Axis’s design engagement helps meet stakeholder challenges – typically groups with diverse agendas – because we focus everyone on the one thing that matters: Usability.
This way, Axis unifies stakeholders and creates a shared vision that aligns to everyone’s goals.
Where can things go wrong?
Sometimes too many stakeholders give conflicting opinions and can’t reach consensus.
Sometimes too few stakeholders can be interviewed preventing Axis from gathering enough information about business goals.
If you've done this for others in my industry/domain, can't we just drop in a solution?
While we have developed designs for numerous verticals (such as Healthcare, Financial Services, Pharma) and horizontals (such as inventory, financial reporting, sales), every client’s real-world business needs are different.
While we draw upon our experience designing for other clients in the same field, we’ve found that every client - even those with similar needs - have different business goals. That’s why we employ a User-Centered Design approach, which optimizes a design for a specific group of users.
Do you need to have a data model ready to do design work?
Our design work doesn’t depend on any one piece of information, or on the existence of a complete data model. Because Axis employs User-Centered Design to focus on how people use information to make decisions, and not on the data itself, we do not need access to an existing data model to conduct a design engagement. That said, access to data can sometimes help us conduct research and discuss how people make decisions.
Can you use an Agile approach to design?
Yes. A User-Centered Design process aligns well with an Agile approach. Designers can gather user stories for data objects, present concepts and iterate changes with a user.
A walkthrough of our process and the delivered artifacts at each checkpoint.
Customer Experience: the cumulative impact of multiple touchpoints over the course of a customer's interaction with an organization
We illustrate mockups using software that shows how the design will functions from end-to-end. The mockups enable easy client feedback and iteration and can be passed to developers to create the dashboard.
Wireframe: A basic layout that structures where and how items will be placed
Our UCD approach requires both UX design and UI design
Rich has spent 15 years helping clients make sense of their thorniest data design problems.
As a design architect, Rich brings both development and design experience to create data apps that let clients get actionable insights using an intuitive interface.
Rich spends his free time building furniture and enjoys landscape photography.
Liza has a Master’s Degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech with a background in architecture.
She enjoys all forms of design, from buildings to screens.
Liza likes to read, kickbox and swim in her free time.
Meet the Core Design Team
Lead, Visual Analytics Practice
Associate UX Designer
When you buy an Axis design engagement, you’re purchasing not only the final deliverable, but also the brainpower and creativity of the entire design team.
Jessie is a graduate of the General Assembly UX Design program, with a background in business and information systems.
She finds balance in the crazy world of design critiques by leveling it with an aggressively persistent positivity.
You can often find her in the great outdoors, whether she's camping, practicing yoga or listening to the trees.
Gen is an Industrial Design graduate from Georgia Tech with a background of Automotive Engineering.
He is our in-house pixel-perfect precision master, whether it's with thought processes, sketches or dashboards.
He enjoys cooking and baking in his free time.
Emily is a graduate of the General Assembly UX Design program, with a background in neuroscience and clinical research.
She is a creative thinker pursuing effective, inclusive, and meaningful designs that contribute to socially impactful work.
In her free time, she enjoys hot yoga, hiking, and crime documentaries.
Bruno is an Industrial Design graduate from Georgia Tech, with a background in Mechanical Engineering.
His past work has focused on design innovation, especially integrating the design process with new technologies and data driven solutions.
He enjoys backpacking and playing soccer in his spare time.
With one click, Chloe jumps to the opportunity in Salesforce and can close the deal!
Chloe drills into Donna’s sales and sees an open opportunity for a very large order.
Monthly sales are close to target, but running just a little behind their goal.
How can she close the gap?
Just as it does for Chloe, our dashboard alsodelivers personalized insights for other Bot On users.
Chloe scans her reps and quickly sees that Donna is way behind her monthly target, so she drills down further to investigate.
It’s the 25th day of the month, and Chloe sees that everything is going smoothly.