This lead me to the simple question I asked the data analyst: ‘can you explain that to me in plain English?’
In 2011, SAP SuccessFactors was updating the design of several features in their suite of business products, and asked me to come in and provide some concepts from outside the industry.
With fresh eyes, I worked with the team to create not just another dashboard of charts and graphs, but something that actually helped to decipher issues that might exist in large organizations, and bubble those up to the right people, in the form of a newspaper-headline-like presentation.
This became Headlines.
Product Designer, UX Designer, UI Designer
2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Winner, 4 Patents
SAP SuccessFactors, San Francisco
Initially, spurred by their competitors having updated their own dashboard offerings, the discussion started with the exploration of improved graphs and charts.
I spent weeks interviewing SAP customers and working with the engineers and analysts at SAP SuccessFactors to understand the needs of people managers (our target audience) and what all the different graphs and charts were meant to convey.
In our early explorations, I encouraged the internal team to rethink their strategy, and instead, to take a risk and create a completely new experience that was much more tailored to the daily flow of a middle-manager.
My thinking was straightforward: we’ve been told that graphs and charts are a good way of boiling-down information to be easily digested. But with the infographics craze going on at that time, I really felt we making users do a lot of work to decipher what could be simple-to-explain problems. This lead me to the simple question I asked the data analyst: “can you explain that to me in plain English?”.
Your group is losing High-Potential managers
The resulting algorithms converted data back into human-readable sentences that told you clearly what issues might be surfacing in your organization. Several patents were awarded around this approach and still stands as one of SAP SuccessFactor’s more unique products.
At this stage of the project, I assembled a collection of visual styles for data displays on ipads and other tablet syle devces. With this, I embarked on the design of the UI.
Collaborating closely with teams in several areas of Successfactors, I worked through several stages of ideation across all phases of the project, from basic user experience, detailed functionality of the language processor, understanding the problem area for different types of customers, visual design, animation, and more.
I built a working prototype that could be presented to potential customers, and this generated a lot of interest. This interest lead to the product, and modules based on the functionality, to become part of SAP’s workforce anlaytics package.
Charts and graphs are great... sometimes. I think that by crafting a story from the data, and telling that story plainly and simply, you can create a more friendly, human-centered system.