Key User Experience Design Principles for working with Big Data

By John Fuller, Consulting User Experience Designer, Oracle

Editor’s Note: This is part 2  in a three-part blog series on the user experiences of working with big data. In my last blog on this topic, I summarized the conversation from a one-day summit with a few key partners on the user experience landscape with big data.  In this blog, John Fuller, full time interaction designer for Endeca, shares some of his team’s key requirements for designing usability into the user interfaces for Endeca Information Discovery.

John Fuller
John Fuller, Consulting User Experience Designer for Endeca

About two years ago, we took look at the product we had and felt that there was a lot of opportunity that was, in many ways, fairly unique in the marketplace. It was at that point that we developed a set of core design principles to guide us in our work going forward.

We crystalized the things we thought were working well and sought to maintain that focus going forward. I wouldn't say that they were designed specifically with "big data" as the main focus; the principles are much more broadly applicable. We're focusing on helping people bring together a variety of data types in a fast and flexible way with lower cost, so from that perspective, we're targeting a really interesting part of the big data story.


Endeca healthcare demo
Screen shot from an Oracle Endeca Healthcare Demo showing how big data can guide the detection of healthcare problems.

We came up with 6 core design principles and details about what each one meant. One of the really interesting outcomes of this has been that the principles have really held up over time.

Here are the six core principles:
  1. Enhance Insight - The value of discovery tools lies in the insights they help discovery workers realize, by enhancing the natural ability of people to understand the answers that are in the data.
  2. Encourage Exploration - Discovery applications encourage exploration.  Users will want to ask new questions, pursue new avenues of exploration, and consider new connections and relationships across the diverse types of information presented by discovery applications.
  3. Coherence and Clarity - All elements of the experience should work together in a coordinated fashion. The way the system works is clear at all levels, making the results and implications of actions easy to understand.
  4. Readily Composable and Manageable - Creating, configuring, and managing discovery applications is straightforward and efficient. The product provides useful defaults, intelligent starting points, and encourages application builders to make good choices when composing discovery applications.
  5. Engaging and Compelling - Working with the tool is enjoyable, engaging, and satisfying, for new and veteran users. Endeca Information Discovery embodies and personifies the values and principles identified herein.
  6. Offer a Modern Application Experience - Discovery solutions “walk and “talk” like modern applications.
With every new project that comes up, the principles still seem new and fresh -- with new takeaways to guide the process. We're planning on adding more detail about the principles -- and several other topics -- on our blog, so if you'd like to hear more, check it out.


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