Online reports and flexible data display grids -- good examples for non-technical users?

17 Sep 2012 - 10:17am
1708 reads

Hello, I am embarking on a large project to redesign an online reporting tool for a non-technical audience.


Background: Today, this tool exists in an online service for a very large non-technical user base. The reports are very important to this user base to track personal sales, team sales, personal data and team data. The user base itself is largely non-technical, and generally are not very interested or familiar with reporting tools and often refer to themselves almost as scared of reports in general.

In my interviews and shadowing sessions, I've come across many examples where the current reports are really a means to an end for another task (i.e. emailing a team who meets certain data requirements, and filtered by other data aspects, to let them know about their current performance) So the task is not really looking at the data in the report, but rather using the data in the report to dictate who to send an email to. In those cases, I'm successfully developing a way to create a more task based approach that does not involve the user needing to dive into filtering and formatting a data report in order to accomplish this.

What remains is creating an effective interface that is capable of showing large amounts of data, must filter data by available filters and must be flexible to show a variety of columns of data depending on the user need. And it needs to do this in a way that is very clear and easy for this non-technical user base. For this portion of the redesign, the task truly is selecting, viewing and making sense of large amounts of data. In some cases, changing the data to a visual view will be helpful, but there is still some reports or types of data where the user must select the kind of data they want to display and rows and rows of data must be displayed for them to review each line.

So how to make this less intimidating, and increase confidence that they have done it correctly?

Online searches for great patterns have turned up good examples of visual data displays and deep rich tools for BI that would scare this audience to death.

Great examples of simple data selection and display tools? Thanks in advance. All responses will be compiled for reference and shared with anyone interested.



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