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Mobile BI Design Framework: Real Estate

by Kaan Turnali, Global Senior Director, BI, SAPFriday, November 15, 2013

Just as the saying goes “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location,” the screen on a mobile device is the most valuable design property. The limited amount of space still remains as one of the biggest challenges in designing for mobile devices. Maximizing the user interface for both consumption and interaction is critical to the design of an effective mobile business intelligence (BI) asset.

Here are several pointers that will help you make the best use of this valuable mobile property.

Use All Four Sides Effectively

Let’s start with the obvious—the screen has four sides. Each of these four sides can not only function as a gateway to additional content, but can also provide a less intrusive delivery of additional functionality. For example, additional content may be displayed on multiple pages that are one swipe away, or a fixed navigation bar can provide access to additional features.

In the case of a sold-out flight where all four sides are used, it can provide seamless functionality all within the same screen. For example:

  • Top: Access to standard features and App menu
  • Right Side: Display of Additional columns with a secondary of importance
  • Bottom: Swipe for viewing additional pages
  • Left Side: Access to interactive features such as prompts or filters
  • Make Room for Anything That Requires Touch

    As I wrote in my last blog, designing for mobile is all about designing for “fat fingers.” Left without the thin curser or mouse pointer of the PC, there are no easy clicks in the mobile world.

    This translates into two key concepts:

    First, whatever the user should tap on the screen must be in a size large enough for the mobile device to efficiently recognize the movement.

    Second, these input objects (buttons, hotlinks, and so on) need to be spaced generously from each other to avoid any confusion by the mobile device and frustration by the user.

    Think Inviting, Not Annoying

    There are many ways to incorporate a particular functionality or deliver BI content on a mobile device. If we accept that mobile BI is about enabling faster, better-informed decisions on mobile platforms, then the real estate must be inviting and not annoying.

    Think of the layout of a retail store. What you want is a design that, starting from the store doors all the way to the cash register, draws the customers to a particular aisle and also invites them to explore new products or services.

    Furthermore, you don’t want to frustrate a retail customer while they shop. So don’t annoy mobile users with functionality that doesn’t add any value to their experience. This is particularly important because users are alone when consuming mobile BI content, unlike retail customers who can ask questions of a store associate.

    Deliver First Then Get Fancy

    There’s a big difference between effectively delivering BI content for actionable insight on a mobile device and user interface (UI) that’s designed for enhanced visual appeal first and content second. I strongly believe that when it comes to mobile BI design, our first objective must be to deliver the actionable insight in the most clear and direct way.

    What may appear to be a “cool” feature or functionality may neither achieve user satisfaction nor increase solution adoption.

    Don’t Hide What’s Important

    Finally, the most important element when it comes to mobile real estate is the use of the first screen on which the user consumes data—equivalent to the home page on a web site. We’ll defeat the purpose of BI if we make the user guess, chase, or assume.

    Whatever is the most important component of any data presentation must be the first to be presented to the user. This slice can’t be hidden on other pages—even if it’s only a tap or swipe away.

    If actionable insight is hidden and/or requires undue effort to discover, then we defeat the purpose of BI–faster, better-informed decision making.

    How do you maximize the use of real estate in your mobile design?

    About the author:

    Kaan Turnali is a Global Senior Director, Business Intelligence (BI), for SAP’s Global Customer Operations (GCO) Reporting & Analytics Platform, Kaan is responsible for the development, oversight, and execution of strategy for the BI platform across GCO’s worldwide user base. In addition, he manages special mobile BI projects for the Office of co-CEO Bill McDermott and the GCO senior management team. His background and experience in the integration of business and technology span over two decades. He is also an adjunct professor, teaching BI in the doctor of business administration program at Wilmington University. Read more at http://www.turnali.com/ or Follow @KaanTurnali on Twitter or on LinkedIn

    Originally posted in The Decision Factor Blog.

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