Data-Driven Design

I’ve been to a conference about “Data-Driven Marketing” which was mostly about analyzing big data reports, but more than that it taught me about analyzing data, it taught me how little do I know and how much I still have to learn.

Slide showing data across the world
Forgive my poor camera performance

Data-Driven

I always thought my job as a UX designer is to design better UI, using tools and wisdom, based on my knowledge and research I did on users. However, I realized I’m looking at it from the most minimalistic and comfort point of view. There’s a lot of data that I need to act according to. Design can’t be based only on a couple of interviews or a Google-form I share with a bunch of friends on Facebook, it can’t be based only on my design talent, and it can’t be based on my old assumptions. Good design is based on true data that is learnt from observing behaviors and watching those little insights that might seem like coincidences but really set our mind into the right place. That is the most authentic data we can find and that can motivate us to create the best product.

Where is all this data?

Data is literally everywhere, and there’s always more of it. Business’ data can be found in its internal records, in its social media pages, in other people’s social profiles and much more. The secret is to find out how to understand this huge amount of data and how to learn from it. I know, it sounds so easy when I say it, and it is really hard to do. People study how to find and learn from data for years and I’m saying this like it’s a walk in the park.

What else?

I’m no pro when it comes to handling data (yet), but if I’ve learned anything in this conference is that I have a whole world left to explore, and it fills me with excitement. I might find some truly amazing things that I haven’t even heard of last week. This way I can improve my work. Awesome!

analytics-dribble
A very impressive gif from Dribbble

And in a more general perspective

We’re all not pros at every single domain, but that’s good! We still have a lot to learn and we can all find a niche we haven’t touched yet, that can improve our general performance, especially in the design field.

In my perspective, good designers can’t deliver just a pretty design, they need to have their own extra spice – artistic inspiration, data researches, technical knowledge, etc. That’s why I think trying and finding different niches will upgrade design in so many levels.

So now what?

I know for myself I’m going to put extra attention on data. As a former programmer, I know the importance of testing your code. Design should also have its testing tools, and the most authentic testing tool is real data from users. So I say this – don’t stop at launching your design. Check it’s impact on users, try to find your users’ struggles, their easy parts and more.

If you have any data-driven techniques or tools, I’ll be super-happy to hear about it in the comments.


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4 thoughts on “Data-Driven Design

  1. Hi Omri,
    Data-driven x is a huge buzzword and anything can sort of be presented as data driven, I say to this to recommend you take my examples with a grain of salt.
    In the world of UI/UX think of A/B testing and other metrics that support funnel optimization. That is the ultimate data driven design in my opinion. I think that the responsibility to execute these things falls on product managers instead of designers or developers because designers and developers are there to execute and PMs are there to figure out what needs to be executed. So really they are doing data driven design, they just call it product management.

  2. Having worked in this domain for a while now I and my team have interfaced, on several occasions, with product managers from numerous companies and startups. And it is after condensing our collective experience can I say that, today’s world and product design environment demands that a product manager be a UI / UX designer and a UI / UX designer be a product manager. Lines between both these domains have blurred. It’s time.

    Design and data aren’t two different sports. They are merely different points of views of looking at solving the same problem. And it’s important to know how to navigate through them both. Many a times I’ve seen product managers, going by their traditional job description of course, fail at executing and rolling out a thought through and robust product, despite their analytical acuity. Having said that I’ve also seen designers fail to understand user behaviour and/or business goals and spend hours trying to shove down a design created within the confines of their own mental prejudices, artistic integrities and influences.

    Design cannot work without data. Data cannot work without design. And with organizational communication being what it is, more often than not, it makes sense for one brain or a set of like-minded brains to solve the problem factoring all variables made available to them. The perfect design is an outcome of a thorough understanding of user-behaviour, geographical behaviour, cultural backgrounds, information flow, design scaleability, business goals, future roadmaps and the perfect designer is someone who factors all this, especially user behaviour data, form their own metrics and keep re-iterating design.

    This area is of immense interest to me, as we too are a new agency based out of India focused on data-driven design. Still in our early stages, we’re factoring a lot of top level data (Currently from standard analytical tools) to understand user behaviour to keep iterating design.

    I’m super keen and would love to collaborate with designers and product managers across the world to form a strong standard of metrics that could become a good starting point for designers like ourselves to base our design related decisions not just on our intuition but also facts i.e. data.

    =
    Nihar Manwatkar
    The Banana Design Company
    nihar@thebananadesign.co

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