The primary user experience challenge was to transform an existing intranet tool with identified shortcomings and usability concerns into a useful, usable, full-featured application for viewing advertising run data and evaluating campaign effectiveness. We knew that to be effective, we would need to present complicated search features and compilations of ad lists for analysis in a user interface that offered both power features and usability. We had to take a tremendous amount of data from multiple, complex spreadsheets, and build an interactive experience for this data. Visual design was challenged with ensuring the client brand was presented in line with well-established standards, while also ensuring a simple and clean feel to this complex application. To set the design goals even higher, PMI's long-term goal is to repurpose this dashboard for additional clients that have customer attribution and satisfaction data needs, so we also had to make the design flexible enough to accommodate this future use.
This application wasn't just for advertising data though, in order to be an innovative decision tool it would also need to supports images and videos from the ads themselves. This would also impact the technical strategy, as the solution needed to allow for rapid development, data loading and proper scaling.
The stakeholders on this project had a national and global perspective, and the team reflected that as we were able to work effectively with resources being from Boston, Colorado, California and India.
With the complexity of the application we knew we had to enter this project with interactive prototypes in order to truly communicate the complex interactions to the multiple stakeholders. Interactive prototypes facilitate accurate requirements definition, documentation of explicit application features and behaviors and set expectations about the end result quickly and early in the process. Stakeholders can take these prototypes and have a clickable, interactive experience on their own, getting time to give thoughtful review, analysis and approval without incurring development expense.
Assembling the sets of ads upon which to perform analysis was definitely not a trivial use case. Many different settings were required to be in place and configurable by users on-the-fly, and this approach helped us identify the multiple variables sooner rather than later. We crafted the simplest experience for requirements and fit a rich feature set into an experience that feels accessible instead of overwhelming. Save and recall of configurations within the context of use works fluidly into the experience of constructing searches, selecting, and viewing ad data. The interactive experience of quick scrolls and clicks that will opens charts and word clouds makes the application extremely user friendly. Careful consideration of every single interface control allowed for an intuitive and aesthetically pleasing finished product - one that invokes confidence and reinforces the credibility of the data itself.
The dashboard was built as a single page application using Angular.JS, Microsoft .NET technologies, and the Windows Azure hosting platform. Angular.JS was chosen as the front-end framework for the dashboard due to its excellent community follow and its ability to support rapid development. There were multiple front-end resources building HTML markup and integrating Angular.JS client libraries while we had other resources building out a new API layer on top of the existing data layer to support the new data objects needed for the user interface. The Boston and India teams split responsibilities by compartmentalizing the work and leveraging Visual Studio Online's Team Services. The platform required some rework on the database side to be ported to SQL Azure for long-term goals and efficient data loading moving forward.
Weekly sync up calls were critical to ensure all stakeholders were informed of the project status. Multiple communication channels were used regularly to complete the technical aspects of the project. Cloud has developed multiple interactive dashboards since our inception, and we always welcome the opportunity to work on a mission critical decision tools The importance of accurate data modeling and the ability to ask what if, and then find out- are increasingly important to getting work done, evaluation the impact of decisions and allocating future budgets. We look forward to helping PMI repurpose this dashboard for many more clients in the future!