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BillyPilgrim

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Reply with quote  #1 

I am a relatively green UX designer for a SaaS company. My company is looking to build a portal/dashboard (yes, they're getting treated like they're the same thing, but that's far from out biggest problem) for a web-based application. This application is pretty robust and has many levels of different users, each of which have different jobs to do in the application and different information needs.

The approach that seems to be sticking with product management is to just create a library of little individual data widgets (think one table or bar chart per widget) and to have users basically lay out their own dashboards. This seems like a really bad idea to me. I have argued for for dashboards tailored to specific user types, sets of data visualizations organized around primary tasks, customization based on scope, filters, etc. but it seems to be falling of deaf ears. The problem seems to be that any attempt to restrict what can be customized in the dashboard is being perceived as reducing the usefulness or functionality of the final product.

Am I wrong to think this is such a bad idea?

If not, any advice on how to steer this project away from this approach?

sfew

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Reply with quote  #2 
BillyPilgrim,

Whether this is a bad idea or not depends on what your company means by a "portal/dashboard." The "build your own portal/dashboard (they are definitely not the same thing) from a library of widgets approach" won't work effectively for most users, but the degree to which it won't work will vary depending on the display's purpose. The problem is that for almost any purpose that is worthwhile, one's ability to design a display that serves that purpose well requires some design expertise. Even a basic level of skill in designing effective information displays is uncommon. This isn't because the skills are difficult to develop but simply that they rarely are developed because people don't know that skills are required. When companies such as yours provides a platform for designing displays along with a library of widgets, they're suggesting that anyone can do it, which promotes the myth that skills isn't required. As a UX designer, you know better. If your management team is focused on making money rather than providing useful products, convincing them that their approach won't work will be an uphill battle, so say the least. The life of a UX designer is a life of frustration unless you work for an organization that is fully committed to building useful and effective products.

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Stephen Few
gilgongo

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Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #3 
"The life of a UX designer is a life of frustration unless you work for an organization that is fully committed to building useful and effective products. "

To which I would add Jared Spool's advice on this topic: a company that doesn't respect the value of experience design will fail. So if you find yourself working for such a company, you should leave before that failure happens.

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User Experience Designer - London, UK
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