I was contracted by Hitachi Consulting to conceptualize the user experience for a business intelligence (BI) portal. BI portals are used daily by members of an organization to share internal information such as sales, forecasts, statistics, and similar data. Traditionally, portals of this type only allowed a small amount of customization. Furthermore, the top-level screens that are supposed to contain relevant and helpful information failed in providing real value.
As a daily tool, the portal needed to provide information more intelligently. Users at different levels within an organization view different types of information within the portal. Therefore the solution was to create a modular and dynamic interface that would allow maximum customization and promote productivity.
Providing customization to any sort of interface can be a mixed bag. On one hand, the user has all the tools needed to create something tailored to their needs. Conversely, this can be disastrous without the user even realizing it. Given the flexibility to change the hierarchy and emphasis of content a user can easily create a less-than-usable interface.
Understanding this pitfall can help inform design decisions early on, especially during preliminary whiteboarding sessions. Providing layout customization constraints and safeguarding the presentation of critical data within the interface can lead to a more effective experience.
The client was very receptive to the concepts presented. Understanding that these concepts would require loads of validation and testing, this exploration of modular content helped inform internal discussions for future consideration.