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Posted Nov 22, 2016 by Laurent

The path to richness.

UX design and data-science – getting it together for better data-centric apps.

Likes, favorites, shopping history, and user habits – the data soon adds up, and just as quickly, it becomes a valuable asset to those wanting to create personal digital experiences. At blcreative, working with data-rich platforms on a daily basis means we are aware of data-power - With the right analysis and the right use, data can shape content, to build new structure, which in-turn influences UX and user behavior. Data is a power-tool and we see user-data as a real commodity. 


The challenge is to blend user-data with a well-crafted UX interface to bring the perfect place to inform, empower and engage - traditionally, it is this challenge that has been cause for a real divide. UX design and data science have for a long-time lived apart – UX breathing aesthetics, design and human habits, data-science existing in a domain of analytics, mechanics and mountain building.

UX designers are not data-scientists, nor do they take much interest in understanding the mechanics, analytics and assembly methods that lead to structuring user-data. The UX designer will set to climb the mountain as simply and effortlessly as possible - the data-scientist will always stop his climb to collect a flower – the UX designer, aware of the details, sets sight on the mountain peak, fixes a goal and doesn’t let go. It’s our stripped-down visual, and it’s the traditional approach to building data-rich apps - but today, we see that UX design is changing its path. Today’s best data-centric apps are coming from UX designers that understand the make-up of the data-strata that lies beneath. Likewise, we now see data-scientists looking skywards – they are considering the real value of thinking visually – they are learning how to present their data so that it can be more generally understood. So things are flattening out. The divide is diminishing and old rivals are working together - we see UX design that is respecting data, we see data that thinks for UX design. And we see that UX is so much better for it.


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UX design using data differently to build better UX :

Never assume. 

Site analytics, shopping history, social activity data is shaping design by explaining how users move, but it doesn’t explain decision making processes -  Assumptions on decision-making cannot be made from how users move around - decision making data can only come from factual forums and focus groups. The mix of both is key to establishing the true traits of user behaviour.

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Keep the carpet clean. 

Data can provide precise understanding of user groups or sectors, but stay away from carpet-bombing. UX should be wide enough to appeal to all users, experienced or not. There should be a flat spread of accommodation and a real-avoidance of segregation or alienation.

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Stay confident and let them discover.

Data, no-matter how dense, has real value - if it remains relevant and is presented well, it will encourage users to engage with complexity and explore new ways of interacting with data.

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Shape use.

Good UX design can help define how users engage with data. Providing overviews of information, zoom devices on specific areas of interest, filters to out unwanted items or conversely provide details on demand, are all key shapers.

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Tangible tasking.

Handing over data control through tangible swipe or click actions, should allow users to command and complete tasks.

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Connection and community.

Data can connect users through communities. This can help users share information, or used shared information, and provides a wider and more social experience.

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Data is alive.

Data provides a constant source of energy and information. It comes in many forms, and it should be valued, considered and used. Data is the flowing life-blood to improved, optimised and better UX.