Lead Product Designer
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Part 4. Data visualization
Bar graphs can be stacked, to show what they're made up of. In that case, allowing users to select which sources to include, helps comprehension and makes users feel in control. The illustration is an example of that.
Pie charts and donuts
Both donuts and pies usually require a legend. Users then have to go back and forth between the legend and the slices to figure out what the colors mean.
They're also just awkward shapes to design with. As much as I like round things, designing for screens means designing in boxes. Circles create awkward dead space in the corners.
Still to come
Since I moved to the Bay Area in 2008, I've mostly worked on transactional sites and apps. Often the interactions and data visualizations have been very complex. That's something I enjoy.
My goal when designing is usually that the user shouldn't have to focus on the interface. It should just do what they expect. There's absolutely room for positive surprises, but we all have better things to do than figuring out where to tap to make things go.
The purple thumbnail leads you to a deceptively simple user journey that I created back in the waning days of the waterfall era.
The purpose with this user flow was to give the team an overview of how the seller and buyer flows work together.
It starts out in a checkout flow that's detailed elsewhere. If we think the seller might be up to no good, we apply a hold to the transaction, as soon as the funds from the buyer come in. We also send an email to the potentially dodgy seller, telling them to ship the item that the buyer just paid for. The email is new, as you can tell from its pink color. It includes a link to a modified page (blue) where the seller can add tracking information to show good faith.
If the seller adds the tracking information, we send it on to the buyer. The email to the buyer contains a link to a page on which the buyer can tell us that they got the item. If they do that, we release the hold and the buyer receives payment for the item.
Note that I'm not trying to map out all possible flows. In fact, I'm omitting more than I'm including. It's important to keep user flows simple and uncluttered. Keeping things simple and uncluttered is always a good idea. Even more so for user flows, an abstraction that can be pretty difficult to understand for people who aren't used to them.
The wavy lines indicate that this is the flow as it appears to the users. It's not what happens behind the scenes. I leave the technical documentation to engineers and other technical staff, so I have time to design stuff.
On the other hand, I always create a flow. On the rare occassions in the past when I've tried to get by without one, there were always complications. Even if it's one page with two states, I jot it down as a flow. It's a very rare project indeed that stays that simple.
MADE IN PIXEL TOGETHER
As usual I included a legend. I usually weave in the legend as elements of the flow come up. E.g. the green page at the bottom is a manual step.
Clever stakeholders will see what I'm trying to achieve by looking at the legend. That's usually a good thing.
There were several things I wanted to highlight with this documentation:
Hand-off points between different apps. Advisors had to deal with a bewildering number of apps, all with different designs and interaction conventions. Again, making the hand-off points visible helped us minimize them.
Decision points and other "glue." The trainer for the advisors was going to be on the call. She needed to know how to train the advisors in using the tool.
This flow represents the experience of a financial advisor receiving an incoming call from a client.
INCOMING CALL FLOW FOR ADVISORS
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