Thursday, April 5, 2012

Visualize This - The Missing Bridge Between Good and Great Design

Here is a video produced by QlikView that makes me want to redo every QlikView document I have ever created.  But are these slick visualizations within a typical designer's reach?  Does QlikView make this type of functionality easy?

Great Design
The visualizations used in the various examples are pretty and effective and reinforce the idea that GOOD design is time intensive and requires a different set of skills than the backend development piece. 

People tend to spend a lot of time on the data because it is perceived to be more difficult AND it is either right, or wrong.  There is no subjectivity.

But the quality of User Interface design rests on a continuum from bad to good.  You can put in some minimal effort and get a document that functions.  But great design as exemplified in this video takes planning, a thorough understanding of design principles and technical skill.  And, I believe it is currently a scale of diminishing return.  To go from bad design to mediocre design is relatively easy.  Going from mediocre to good is a larger effort and moving toward great design requires quite a bit more (read $$$).

Can I Create These Visualizations?
The gripe I have is I wish QV actually came with easy ways to create some of these:

Many of the graphics effects you see there require photoshop or similar software, along with that skill set.  Unless you are able to "borrow" graphics from the internet that meet your exact need.  The gradient dividers and arrow shaped text boxes for example must be created or found outside of QlikView.  QlikView could use a "shapes" library to do arrow shaped text boxes and that sort of thing.  As an example, the arrow shown (4:35) does not exist in QlikView.  It must be created or obtained elsewhere and used as an image in a text box.  There should be a way to do these types of simple representations without additional software.

QlikView could use a "legend" object that could link to various objects and could have customizable display options.  Legends are extremely limited today in QlikView.  The ability to customize the graphic column of the legend or to spread the legend horizontally simply do not exist, not to mention the ability to move the legend completely off the chart to another area of the page.

Also, the last piece regarding the dimming or highlighting of objects based on selections (6:08) is tricky and requires many similar or repeated calculations at different levels within an object.  Some of this can be mitigated with variable expressions, but it would be nice if settings existed to do this kind of stuff automatically. 

So the bottom line is "Yes" I can create this quality of design.  But are clients willing to spend the extra dollars required to get design to this level?  I would generally say "No".  Maybe if QlikView can create some of the design tool improvements listed above my answer to that question could more often be "Yes"!

1 comment:

  1. I agree completely. Some of the stuff in QV drives me crazy. They SHOULD make it easier to do this type of stuff. Even something like "dynamically" picking columns to build a custom table is way harder than it should be.