User-Centered Dashboard Development: Refine


User-Centered Dashboard Development: Refine

by Kendra Allenspach

In our previous post we previewed this phase, “Refine,” since it goes hand in hand with the “Develop” phase. They dance a tango, one leading the other as they move together towards creating a dashboard ready for production. The goal of the “Refine” phase is to iterate and fine-tune our dashboard based on user feedback.

Refining Our Dashboards

The “Refine” phase is where we engage with our users to get their input on the MVP (minimum viable product) dashboard we built for them to test. We do this through an experience called User Acceptance Testing (UAT for short).  

 You can conduct your UAT in a variety of ways. There are two overall approaches we recommend: 

  • Moderated 
  • Unmoderated 

With moderated UAT, you are present with your users while they test. You provide the dashboard to users to test live while you observe. Invite them to explore the dashboard as they normally would, without a lot of handholding or instruction from you, so that you can see how it would be used in their normal business. In the virtual workplace, this could be on a video call with the user sharing their screen while you watch. Or if you are back in the office, you could meet in person. While you don’t want to be overbearing in this type of UAT, you do want to ask open-ended questions to help better understand your users’ experience. “Why did you click on that menu?” and “What did you expect to happen when you hovered there?” and “What would you do next?” are some examples.  

With unmoderated UAT, you are not there to oversee users’ testing, but rather inviting them to test the dashboard on their own time and provide you feedback. Here, you want to invite them to review the work-in-progress dashboard in your development environment. You can do this through email, Slack, etc. In your invitation to participate in UAT, provide a few guidelines for what you want feedback on: is it everything or one specific thing? Then outline how and where they can provide feedback: is it by replying to the email, filling out a linked form or sending you a DM? When conducting unmoderated UAT, I like to offer a few ways for users to engage with me so that I can meet them where they’re at – it increases the likelihood that they’ll participate. And of course, don’t forget to give them a deadline for when you need their input by! 

UAT in Practice

When it comes to incorporating these 2 types of UAT into your process, we recommend starting with one to two rounds of moderated testing and then moving into unmoderated testing (with the same group of users). Granted, you may not have 3 to 4 rounds of feedback for every dashboard, but starting with moderated and transitioning to unmoderated has proven to be the most effective in our experience. If you have a particularly savvy group of users for testing who were more involved in the “Understand” and “Define” phases, you could skip straight to unmoderated as needed. After a few times running this process on your own, you’ll start to feel out what is best for your use cases and users.  

A few of the things you’ll want to focus on refining based on the feedback you receive include the topics below and we’ve linked some of our favorite blog posts on these subjects: 

Keep an eye out for more UCDD blog posts to come! We have three more planned for this series, so make sure you’re not missing out. If you want to see how our UCDD workshop can work for you, feel free to drop us a line!

More About the Author

Kendra Allenspach

Analytics Architect
User-Centered Dashboard Development: Evolve If you’re new to User-Centered Dashboard Development (UCDD), please check out the earlier posts in this series to get acclimated, found ...
User-Centered Dashboard Development: Maintain If you’re new to User-Centered Dashboard Development (UCDD), please check out the earlier posts in this series (also found at the ...

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