Appreciating the Visual Display of Quantitative Information

My long-time graphic / design consultant and friend, Nate Burgos recently penned a piece over on his blog Design Feaster about the process of designing the user interface for Metal Miner's new metals global pricing index, Metal Miner InDX(SM). Nate notes that when it comes to design, he starts with putting a pencil or pen to paper and that, "speaking of which, a blank sheet is my preference, rather than graph paper. Sketching on paper without lines is a better canvas to me. User interfaces are essentially layouts. With each iteration I played with the arrangement of the elements … The primary space would be for the criteria to adjust and search for pricing a particular metal; the other space would be dedicated for displaying the results … Building the webapp based on these sketches, we watched the user interface evolve as the actual visual and interactive factors were incorporated." Even though his words are focused on this one project, I think the process Nate employs is applicable for any organization thinking through the user-driven implications of their products. In addition, it also shows how practitioners should start to think through how users will actually interact with the systems they deploy. Overlooking this point has led, in part, to a range of failed SRM, travel booking, T&E and other related Spend Management deployments over the years thanks to UIs that turned users off.

- Jason Busch

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