Tag Archives: user interface design
by Sooria Jeyaraman
As you all know in our latest release, we have added more basemaps to the product, which I covered in my previous blogpost. One more exciting addition to the basemaps is the integration of maps from ArcGIS.com. Continue reading
by Sooria J
Preferences is a section in Business Analyst Online which, in my opinion, is a “treasure”. It provides shortcuts to make your life easier. Let’s review them one by one.
This section gives you options to set the default tab to open when the app loads initially. If you are a user who is more concerned with getting reports, you can set this up and save an extra click (it adds up you know!) so the application opens to the Get Reports tab every time. The same can be done for other sections too.
This section is for setting up your study areas. If you always work on a particular area such as a city or county, you can set it here. When you open the Select Location or Research Market tab, the map will be automatically zoomed in to your favorite location and ready to go. In the second section of this page, you can set the default values for the rings, drive times and donuts. Also the fill and border color for each type of study area can be set here. By setting these, anytime you create a site your sites will have the colors you chose. Remember you can always click on the Restore Defaults button to restore the default settings.
All your needs for a color coded map can be set here. You can pick from the wide range of our beautiful color ranges, transparency setting, methods, border thickness and color.
Inserting your own logo is important to you and we understand that. So there is functionality to allow you to upload multiple logos and use them in reports and maps. The preview of the logo is shown and gives you an idea of the size of that the logo will be in the report.
This section lets you pick the report default format, either PDF or Excel. You can also choose to receive an email of the reports you have run by selecting this option and inserting your email address. Ability to send copies to colleagues and clients can be done using the CC field. You can also add a subtitle to the reports here too.
I have provided details about Favorites in my blog post titled Favorites is my Favorite. Managing your favorite reports list can be done here. You can add, delete or change the order in which the reports are run in the favorite reports.
Let us know your thoughts on these feature and any other shortcuts you would like to have added.
by Sooria Jeyaraman
By now I’m sure you must have explored the new comparison reports in Business Analyst Online, if not I would strongly urge you to do so. It is one of our marquee features that some of our users are craving for. I will let you know some more tricks in the feature that will make your job easier. Hypothetical scenario – I am interested in a couple of locations near Mira mesa, San Diego. I want to know about the demographics of people living in 5, 10, 15 minute drive time of this location. I also want to know how these locations fare in comparison with its ZIP code, County and also benchmark it against my successful location in Redlands.
Hmmm.. how could I do this? Do I need to create all these as separate sites and get reports and add them manually in excel to compare!! No that’s when our new comparison reports come to your rescue. Let’s first create the two drive time sites.
Now go to “Get Reports” tab, click “Create Comparison Reports” and these two sites will be automatically selected in the site panel, add your successful Redlands site to it. These three sites will be shown in step 1 as sites selected.
On step 2 open the ZIP code dropdown, now that lists all the ZIP codes that your sites belong too (sweet huh!), select your desired ZIP code and now move on to the County dropdown which will list all the counties that your sites belong too, pick your interested county.
Now move on to step 3, an option to pick your benchmark. Open the dropdown and you can see all the sites selected, its respective geographies and not just that you have options to benchmark it against the “Average” and “Median” of your selected sites. Now for our walkthrough let’s pick your successful Redlands site.
On step 4 let’s say we are interested to look at the Income variables, go ahead and click the “Income” button. Here’s what you would get once you click the button in step 4.
You get an UI with the graphs with the benchmarked site as the first site and your selected sites with the ZIP code and county of your selection. It’ll be better if I explain each of the elements on this page one by one with highlights.
- View toggle button lets you switch between this graph view and a tabular view where you can just look at the sites and variables in plain numbers in a table format.
- Variables dropdown lets you select/deselect the variables you would like to be displayed in the graph/table.
- Graph legend represents each variable and the bar color associated with it
- Year toggle lets you see our five year projection for the selected variables.
- Dropdowns below each site name lets you change the individual drive time to be displayed in the graph.
- Finally, you can also print and save the information in excel for further reference.
On the top you have tabs to switch between our other popular variables “Population” “Households” “Housing” and the last tab “Customize” lets you create your own set of variables – more on that in my next blog on the same subject, watch out.
Before you go, I would also suggest you to visit our friend and fellow blogger Kyle’s scribbling in his blog post about benchmark report in Business Analyst Desktop.
by Sooria Jeyaraman
Site naming in Business Analyst Online has taken a new approach in the current release and here’s a brief snapshot of the interaction. From the feedback we got from the users we found a couple of things, our default site names (“Site_8” etc) are not very popular among the users and apart from the user specified site name they also want to see the address of the site for clarification and organization.
Thinking on those lines we arrived at this approach. The first step of the Find Location workflow now includes a toggle button to toggle between address and lat/long and also an optional text box to specify a site name.
Did I say optional! So what happens when you specify or not specify a site name? How is it going to impact in the reports? Why not I walk you through both the approaches here.
Site name specified:
User types in the address in the Address box and types in a name in the optional site name box in the second line. The map gets geo coded to the address and shows a pin on the map. The contextual menu shows the Site name in the first line and the address in the second line.
Now the user moves on to the next step of creating rings/drivetimes/donuts and it gets applied to the pin. Another thing to note is the Site Name could be changed any time before you order the report by clicking on the “Edit Name” link in the contextual menu.
Once you order a report, the site name is shown in the first line of the header and the address is shown on the second and third line of the header.
This site name and the description (address) will be added to Organize Sites, Site Panel, and Previous Reports etc for easier understanding and organization.
Site name not specified:
Some users don’t want to go through the pain of adding a site name, just want to get in and get out, guess what you can do that too. You can just type in the address in the Address box and leave the optional site name box empty and hit Go. This puts the pin on the map and shows the address on the contextual menu. There will be a link shown in the first line to add a site name, in case you changed your mind by then.
After moving to the second step and applying rings or drive times or donuts to the point, the contextual menu shows the address in the second line and again a message to add an optional site name in the first line.
Once you order a report, only the address will be shown in the report header without any cryptic “Site_1” default site names. Sweet huh!
We feel this approach gives the user the extra flexibility but still get desired reports. Do let us know your thoughts on this approach, later..
by Sooria Jeyaraman
The design approach we’ve taken for the next version of ArcGIS Business Analyst Online is quite simple. Lead the user whenever necessary and stay back and relax when not needed. The decision when to step in and when not to was taken based on the frequent and infrequent tasks the user is trying to accomplish using the application. By “frequent” we mean the tasks that have a very little chance of user error…and the “infrequent” are the ones that are most prone to error and need help and directive from the application. The design team followed the approach from the following famous graph in user centered design.
From our experience we found out that users need most help during creation of a site, this includes all workflows using entering address, drawing a polygon, importing an excel file and selecting from a list of geographies. We made a wizard kind of approach during site creation for all the workflows mentioned above. In the example below, I’ve created a site by entering an address. After an address is entered a contextual menu pops up which confirms the address of the user.
User can click on the Next button at the far right to go to the next step of applying rings or drive times or donuts to the specified location.
By clicking Next , user will be given options to Get Reports, Save this site or Add another site.
If the user clicks on the Get Reports button above then the application takes the back seat and lets the user lead in picking and choosing variety of reports for the site created. User is provided with options to pick and choose the reports, format, and view a sample add a report to their favorites etc. This is the area where the user would like to really explore all the report options that are provided to them and would like to choose the perfect ones that matches their needs.
We found from our usability testing so far that this approach has been highly appreciated. We hope you do too!!
As always we’d love to hear from you, share with us your opinion about this approach and the application by clicking on the Feedback link on the top of the application.
See you when I see you..
by Sooria Jeyaraman
Usability: “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” (ISO 9241-11)
Major goal of our latest release of Business Analyst Online is to improve the usability and user experience of the product. Exposing our vast sets of data in our products has always been a challenge, to say the least let alone do some analysis with it. Most of you would agree with me that no design could be perfect until it serves the purpose effectively. We as a company have realized that and user experience is very much in ESRI’s radar these days (Woo hoo!!). We’ve incorporated some of the user centered design principles for this upcoming release of Business Analyst Online 9.3.
Let me explain the process a bit. A small window of opportunity was created within the project schedule to accommodate designers (user experience architect and visual designer) early in the product cycle. Designers along with the product management made use of the situation by incorporating these three simple steps.
1. Listen to the users
2. Usability testing and listen to the users
3. Listen to the users again.
We actually listened (literally!) to the customers through our numerous customer interviews and tried to analyze the user’s goals and expectations of the product. Sample personas were created to bring life to our users and numerous white boarding sessions happened over months. Finally after several redesigns a working prototype was created. This prototype was given to the actual users in the form of usability testing to initiate our second step of listening.
Usability testing as expected served as a great eye opener for the stakeholders of the project and for us designers too. We watched and listened to the miseries of our users actually trying to use our prototype. There were times we wanted to go across the one way mirror and show the user where that particular link was.. hey, but there were occasions where the users were delighted about our design as well, so there was something to boost our egos
After these sessions, we got back to the drawing board to analyze the reasons why certain design elements didn’t work with our users. After remedying those issues, we tested it again with our users and repeated the process multiple times. The beta that is going to be out soon might not solve all the issues but we are hoping to hit a field goal at the minimum. Having said that, there is always room for improvement and as I mentioned earlier no design is perfect until it solves the user goals effectively and efficiently. We still might go back to our drawing boards based on what we hear from you.