Blog / Thought Leadership

Transforming Data into Insights: Best Practices in UX Design

Avatar photo
Written by: S4A IT Solutions Trusted implementer of SAP® solutions
Posted on: May 27, 2024

Since the dawn of cave drawings, people have relied on imagery to tell stories and convey messages. Circa 21st century, this storytelling and communication often relies on data to strengthen it’s messaging and significance. Enter data visualization, the term given to relaying analytics and information using visual elements. Or more simply put, the difference between…


…and this:

(Source: Visual Capitalist)

Our S4A Design Services team lives and breathes data visualization and understands it’s deep correlation to a positive user experience and adoption when it comes to SAP applications. Jon Couch, our Lead UI/UX Designer, has been designing since high school and is the driving force behind user experience at S4A. With a wealth of experience and a passion for user-centric design, Couch had some fantastic insights to share on how to do data visualization right.

Key Principles for Creating Effective Data Visualizations

Creating effective data visualizations is essential for conveying information clearly and efficiently. Here are some key principles and guidelines for doing so effectively.

Strive for Simplicity in Your Designs

According to Couch, simplicity and clarity are paramount. “Less is more,” Couch points out. “Strive for simplicity in your designs. Overloading a visualization with too much information can overwhelm users. Instead, focus on displaying the most important data effectively.”

Visual hierarchy is a valuable tool in this regard. By prioritizing elements based on their importance, you can guide users’ attention to the most critical parts of the visualization.

Maintain Consistency

Ensure that your visualizations align with your brand and design system. Consistent use of colors, fonts, and styles helps in creating a cohesive and professional look. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also helps users to better understand – and trust – the information being presented.

Enhance Data Visualizations with Interactivity

Interactivity can significantly enhance data visualizations by making them more engaging and user-friendly.

“Using interactivity to simplify the appearance without sacrificing data or functionality is crucial. For instance, highlighting information on hover or click can make a visualization less cluttered while still providing access to detailed data.”

Furthermore, allowing users to customize their view through features like drag-and-drop reordering or filter and setting menus can greatly enhance the usability of a dashboard.

These interactive elements enable users to tailor the visualization to their specific needs, improving their overall experience.

Adhere to the Laws of UX

Couch points to the Laws of UX, a collection of best practices that designers can consider when building user interfaces, as a go-to resource for providing guidance for any visualization or interaction. These principles include:

  • Hick’s Law: simplifying choices to improve decision-making
  • Fitts’s Law: designing for easier access to interactive elements
  • Jakob’s Law: users prefer your design to work the same way as other similar designs
  • Miller’s Law: limit users’ cognitive load by presenting no more than seven items at a time

Common Mistakes in Data Visualization and How to Avoid Them

Data visualization can be powerful, but there are a couple of common pitfalls that can undermine its effectiveness.

“Overcrowding is a common issue in data visualization where too much information is packed onto a single screen or page,” Couch shares. “This can be avoided by designing with purpose, focusing on displaying only the most relevant data for each user.”

Ensuring that the visualization remains clear and focused can significantly enhance user comprehension. Less critical information should be relegated to secondary screens or provided as optional details to prevent overwhelming the user.

Another frequent problem is the unorganized presentation of metrics, which can make data difficult to find and interpret. This issue can be addressed through proper planning, prototyping, and testing. By logically organizing data and grouping related metrics together, you can create a more intuitive and navigable interface, making it easier for users to understand and interact with the information presented.

Effective Data Visualization in Action

Couch has effectively integrated these best practices (and more) into the design and development of our suite of Envoy products, significantly enhancing their functionality and user experience. For instance, Envoy Balance, our SAP planning and scheduling software, features data visualizations that clearly show the progress of work plans and schedules. Users can customize charts to display overall scheduling percentages, planned vs. actual hours worked, and scheduling progress by priority, enabling them to quickly assess the status and efficiency of their schedules.

Similarly, Envoy EAM Pulse leverages Power BI and Envoy Bridge to connect with SAP data, providing real-time insights into inspection and schedule compliance, backlogs, mean time between failure, and more. These fully customizable reports allow customers to tailor visualizations to their specific needs, ensuring that the insights remain relevant and actionable.

The bottom line is that data visualization emphasizes clarity, consistency, and user-centric design. The effectiveness of using powerful visualizations to enhance understanding and decision-making cannot be understated. If your organization needs UX or design support services, we’d love to assist!

Let's stay in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular product updates, exclusive insights, and more!