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The #1 problem I see with clients trying to design good analytics products

By Brian T. O'Neill | September 21, 2015

When it comes to analytics products that need to show data to customers, one of the biggest misconceptions I see with clients is the believe that their trove of data is actually ​information, by default. Your data is not informative until it has been presented–i.e. designed–in a way that customers can inform their future decisions or actions. … Read more

What’s wrong with the analytics in the NEST thermostat’s monthly report?

By Brian T. O'Neill | August 21, 2015

It’s homework time! Let’s talk about NEST (Thermostat) for a minute. In particular, their monthly report. I have a thermostat and hot water radiators in my house (no central air). Each month, the NEST device sends me a report of how I did in terms of energy use etc. How good is this report? Hmmm. … Read more

Is your product producing automated insights/recommendations based on…fluff?

By Brian T. O'Neill | July 21, 2015

Ah, fluff. It’s a great word, and it was actually born in its marshmallow form just a mile away in Somerville, MA. There’s even a fluff festival. A few weeks ago, we talked about the various levels of maturity that an analytics-driven product can go through, with the Holy Grail being one that delivers actionable, useful … Read more

Here’s one of the simplest ways to simplify complex analytics

By Brian T. O'Neill | June 21, 2015

This design “no-no” appears almost every time a new client [with a product that displays analytics] asks me to review their UI/UX. More often than not, I’m not provided with any relevant user tasks/usage contexts by which I can do my evaluation, but clients still want my opinion on what could be better, or what they’re … Read more

What happens when you use templates for dashboards and analytics products?

By Brian T. O'Neill | June 21, 2015

I hear it all the time on Quora, in real life, and from clients: “What BI tool should we use to visualize our data? Is there a good dashboard template you know of?” When it comes to designing analytics products and dashboards, templates and libraries aren’t necessarily bad, if you have spent the time to … Read more

Maybe your product’s problem is information *underload*

By Brian T. O'Neill | May 21, 2015

We’ve all heard about information overload, and the paradox of choice. Don’t you love those thai menus with every type of sauce, noodle, and protein, all written out as separate dishes? “I’ll have item D132 with no water chestnuts….no, I mean the one with chicken on page 12….yeah, that one.” There’s a ton of data … Read more

Do you have a metrics toilet on your hand?

By Brian T. O'Neill | March 21, 2015

When I work on products that primarily exist to display analytics information, I find most of them fall into roughly four different levels of design maturity: The best analytics-driven products give actionable recommendations or predictions written in prose telling a user what to do based on data.  They are careful about the quantity and design of the … Read more