(6) Ways to Sanitize Your Data Product, Dashboard Visuals or Analytics due to Covid-19

A few weeks ago when the Covid-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions like social distancing kicked into full swing hard (at least here in the US), I had asked on a webinar whether attendees' software data products or analytics projects had been asked to incorporate Covid-19 related changes into their UI/UX. Most said no. I was surprised.

I can think of several ways that Covid-19 could impact the value a data product delivers to its users and many possible UX/design changes you may need to make (or could make to provide unexpected delight/extra value):

Plotting significant calendar events on timelines:

Historical data presentations like standard line charts should indicate important events on the timeline to provide context. Yes, like literally, draw some little dots or stars on long the X-axis (date axis) and illuminate any business-critical or relevant happenings. Adding the ability to provide date events and event ranges can help turn a bland display into something with more powerful context. What dates need to be plotted? That's for you to decide. Did you cut 80% of the advertising in the company, and you're designing a marketing ad-spend dashboard for the CMO? Well, putting the dates of these major changes on the charts will help people better understand the information and what they might do next.

Re-Training/Adjusting AI/ML Models:

If your customers are interacting with AI solutions that have now learned from historical data that is almost certainly influenced for Covid-19 related reasons, is that actually desirable? Do the models need to be adjusted given the magnitude of impact the virus has had on many businesses? Does your model interpretability factor in Covid-19 as a cause for a prediction and actually display that to users?

New Comparison Data Needed for Users to Gain Insights from your Visualizations:

Does Covid-19 introduce new types of comparison data that need to be incorporated into your solution? A basic example: in the past, you only offered quarterly time periods. However, right now, 2 quarters ago is like 100 years ago. Users actually want to start tracking from some date in, say, March, that is "off quarter." "Show me the world, as if it started on the day we saw revenue drop 50%. That's my new 'start date' for the foreseeable future."

Model Predictions / Predictive Analytics Need to be Further Out to be Useful:

Do they need your predictive model to project important data out much further into the future than before? "Next quarter? Hah! We are looking 24-36 months out." What does this mean for accuracy? How will they interpret the results when the chance for error that far is is much greater? You won't know unless you are engaging them in your design process.

Transients resulting from business impacts due to Covid-19 negatively impact your original design/visualizations:

Did a massive business impact from Covid-19 create data visualization scaling issues you haven't accounted for? Ex: a massive "blip" on a time-series chart creates a y-axis scaling problem. Those useful 30-day sparklines? Imagine them completely flat because they didn't ever plan to accommodate a transient introduced by Covid-19.

You don't know what new problems/pains/use cases your customers are now focused on:

Perhaps most importantly: if you're not doing any UX research on a regular basis, you're not hearing what questions and worries your data product customers actually have RIGHT NOW when using your solution.  Their world, and usage patterns with your application/solution, may have significantly changed. And that means your design also may need to change.

Yesterday's design may be relevant, partially irrelevant, or completely irrelevant. You may know when they complain...or maybe they'll just go silent and you'll see engagement drop.

Helping you identify what design, UI, UX, or data viz adjustments to make to your solution/dashboard/app due to Covid-19 is one of the benefits I've recently added to my Interface Design Audit & Remediation Plan service. If your design was already causing frustration with users, or they're just not using it, in about one week's time, I can provide you with a written and narrated video audit of your service with step-by-step, prioritized instructions on what design/viz changes you need to make. It has a fixed price, comes with a 100% money-back guarantee, and includes retainer access to me so you can start implementing the changes quickly, with my guidance.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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