Connect the dots between data and user experience

Making better design decisions with data

ACL has been a leader in the analytics market for Audit, Risk and Compliance for over 28 years. I’m going to let that sink in for a second. It’s mind blowing to think that we’ve been helping people analyze data since the 80's! Being data-driven is a big part of the vision we paint for our customers. We believe it is the foundation for organizations to make informed business decisions. On the product team we’ve been using data to better understand our customers.

Here’s an example of how we used data to help us make an informed design decision using our very own analytics product.

We recently added a new feature that would allow users to download all attachments on a page at once, instead of one at a time. Attachments are one of the most heavily used features in our application and there are often many attachments on a single page. Forcing users to download each attachment individually was quite painful. So we had the problem to solve, but we got stuck on how the workflow should be designed. We were most concerned about the user experience and performance. After some discussions with developers and designers we landed on 3 possible solutions:

  1. Design the ‘download all’ process so that the attachments would be collected by the server, zipped and then downloaded immediately when ready. This took a few seconds for smaller attachments (less than 100mb), but it could take 20 seconds or more when attachments were larger.
  2. Design the ‘download all’ process so that the user would get an email once the zipped file was ready to download, instead of having to wait. This made for a better user experience when attachment sizes were quite large, but it could be annoying when they were small.
  3. A combination of 1 and 2. Have the system check the total size of attachments and choose a workflow based on the size.

Right away I didn’t like option 3 because it felt like we were over complicating the problem. There had to be a simple solution, so I resorted to data to look for an answer.

From analyzing the data we found that 99% of the time the total attachment size on a page was less than 100mb and 97% of the time less than 10mb. This gave us the data points we needed to land on a solid design. We focused the design to be ideal for when the total attachment size was less than 100mb (option 1), while making sure it was still acceptable when they were larger.

At ACL we strive to design for convention and using data can help you define what that means. Otherwise you are blindly designing for what you think is the norm. Don’t dilute good design by trying to accomodate for every possible scenario. Stay focused on the most important elements and design for the most common use cases. It will translate into a better user experience and help you build a more engaging product.

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