Beware the dreaded “reporting section” in your analytics service


"That stuff probably belongs in the reporting section."

I've heard that one before.

There's probably a better approach.

Remember: it's not really about "analytics" -- it's about providing information to help your customers make better decisions.

Shoveling your analytics into the "reporting section" can easily become a dumping ground for "stuff that might be useful" and "stuff people look at once in awhile."  The fact your "reporting area" might just contain longer term historical data or more facets or data points doesn't mean relegating it to this dumping ground is solving it for your customers. I often find little attention is given to content that lives in here, and often times, the content really shouldn't live there. Engineering decisions shouldn't be driving where content fits in your information architecture. Nor should the quantity of historical data or what data source feeds that section of the product.

You still need to figure out what the use cases are. Are they really going to "run a report" and be done? What earlier tasks had to happen before that reporting would be helpful? What tasks/activities are they going to do after they run the report? Are those tasks part of your product/service or do they take place elsewhere? Will users be coming and leaving repeatedly over the course of performing one action?

Your design needs to account for users' needs and the tasks and activities that support those needs.