Four Techniques to Apply in the Design of Data-heavy Applications

Guest blog post.

Big data makes a noteworthy contribution to the usefulness of an application, but its presence can make the design of a clean and usable interface rather difficult. Today, many web applications are built on the platform of big cloud-based data, which leads to the question: how can a designer deliver all the necessary data in an application without making a train-wreck of everything?

Creating a balance between complex data requirements and a simplified user interface is a big challenge for most web app designers. To simplify the user interface, one may have to strip away most of the information, but doing this takes away from both usability and functionality of the resulting application. Conversely, maintaining the mountain of data as is can lead to creation of an impracticable application.

Below are a few tips that you can implement to help create simpler user interfaces for applications relying on complex and big data for their operation:

Determine what the Use Case is

The principle behind having a good interface design bases on a thorough understanding of the problem at hand, which the application will solve. Starting with the kind of design you want as a client or the data to use will lead to poor decision-making based on flawed criteria.

To begin with, define the user case, which will dictate the design process. Find out how most people will use the application, understanding that it is impossible to cater for the needs of every single user. The benchmark for a good design is one that pleases and is usable by most users at most times.

Have everything first, then begin trimming

Using big data for web app design resembles the work of a sculptor – you start with this massive block and then slice away until you have only what you need. For every section of the application, map out all the data that could be fitted into the section, and then prioritize and organize according to the main use case.

This includes all information remotely related to the actual application use – you will probably end up with a gigantic mess. From this, sculpt down, sort, prioritize and arrange the information. Hide some items, change typefaces, colors and font weights and add interactive elements where necessary, basing every decision on the use case.

Make the content your design elements

When using big data, you don’t need any extra chrome – including several textures, sweeping gradients, drop shadows among other elements will only increase the complexity of an application that’s complex already. This is not to say that you simply have to go with black text against a plain white background.

Instead, invest effort towards improving typography, using color to distinguish data groups and reducing words to iconography where possible so that the content itself creates a visually stimulating layout.

Maintain flexibility

No design is ever final; redesign is an inevitable part of design. As the application is used, there will be aspects that will need further simplification and changing to make the design cleaner and better. Therefore, to make work easier, break all elements down into their smallest components in the backend to make rearrangement easier every time a change is necessary.

Author Bio: Charlie Brown is a well known web professional who works in BigDropInc.com. In this article he is sharing some tips to avoid bad web design mistakes that can spoil the user-experience.

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