Designing Data – Part 1: The Mindset

May 21st, 2012 by Matt

We're asked about our design all the time - usually in an incredibly kind way full of high fives and “how’d you do that?!”s but sometimes in a “ugh, did you even think about talking to a customer??” kind of way. So, we decided to give you a week-long deep dive into our design process in this “Designing Data” series. Stay tuned every day this week for a next step in our design process - and let us know what you think about every one of them.

Design is pretty important to us.

We have one job: Taking a crazy amount of data and turning it into something meaningful, so people on the front-line - people who don’t always have time for numbers - know exactly what to do and when to do it. Without good design that’s just not possible. If it takes them 10 minutes to figure out what the numbers stacked in front of them mean, let alone what they should do with them, that data might as well not exist. But it's not just about pretty. Design is way more than the visual. Design is a process of understanding. Where do people want to be and how can we make it stupid easy for them to get there? When we say design we mean everything: from the look of things when your traffic spikes to why you want to know that in the first place. Design is a holistic process that's about people and solving their problems - and making it beautiful while we're at it. So we start, unsurprisingly, by talking to these people, watching these people. We don't lock ourselves in a room and run through scenario after scenario with fictional, ideal users and refrain from putting anything out there until it’s completely finished. We actually get out there and find out what kind of problems people are facing and solve those first. But we don’t stop there. After we’ve got a solid idea and confirmed that it works with a handful of our users we do something that’s a little bit riskier... We iterate in public. We put out stuff that isn’t done, and sometimes we’re not even totally confident in it. Because we - and our early testers - don’t have all the answers. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Tomorrow, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the user research portion of the design process and explain all of this launch-into-the-wild stuff later this week.