Dashboard Bling

Thursday 29 September 2011

As a developer and UI designer, I have always been fairly conservative when it comes to colour and how much information to put on a screen, however I am starting to wonder if a bit of bling on a new set of reports we are posting on the web would be “just the job!”.

Corporate branding and the economical use of fancy controls and charts has been the norm for me in the past, however ultimately, it’s down to your target market and not everyone wants Corporate.

I expect that the average football fan who looks at www.footystatsonline.com will want to see something a little more jazzed up than a boring “pie” (no half time pun intended) or “mixed bar and line” chart.

I’m sure they would prefer something that catches the eye, gets right to the point and can be digested quicker than a half time foot-long hot dog and cup of Bovril.

Thinking how we have presented things in the past, salesmen have understandably wanted to present the latest, greatest and sexiest software out there to give them that little bit of “wow factor” or “sizzle” when showing off to prospects. Something to give the an edge…

Whether this is by demoing on the latest tablet PC, Android or iPhone, or by showing an early release (a pre-alpha version? Sketch? White board scribble?), of some upcoming software where you have to tippy-toe around the application, clicking on the buttons and widgets that you know will work.

On the flip side of things, also being someone who has been on the receiving end of a demonstration, sex and sizzle is not always what I want to see… I want substance with a bit of style thrown in, not the other way round.

Who really uses 3D charts to explain away to people why your profits are on the wane or your pipeline is growing?

Who really wants to have to keep buying colour ink cartridges so that they can print off their multi-coloured reports when a black and white copy should suffice?

So why am I now looking at pimping up our reports?

Because my Sales Director thought our reports looked boring.

…Too corporate. Not eye catching enough.

This puts me in a bit of a quandary. My previous experience says make your charts 2D, use simple and limited colours, make sure it’s not too busy but my head says “make it fun”, “make it modern and stylish”, “be inventive”.

In reality it’s all about the target market and how you plan to attract new users and retain their interest.

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean doesn’t meant you need to spend any less attention on the appearance of the application than you would if you were implementing the solution to a Corporate.

Being aware of the age of your target market, the fact that you’re pushing new services out to the new iPhone, Tablet, Gamer aware, free to use or cracked market means we need to take more care not less care than you would with selling to a Corporate.

The potential user base for any new service over the web is huge so coming up with a look and feel that appeals to a high percentage of Joe public is key.

So we’re looking at adding a bit of bling and a bit of the X-Factor to our reports. I’ll be watching the feedback with interest.

Follow @footystatsuk and let me know what you think!

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