While the technical, business, and social environments surrounding the field of visual analytics are changing dramatically, the presentation and consumption of visual analytic content has remained relatively unchanged. Despite the influences of social media & collaboration, mobile computing, big and wide data availability, broadband internet, rich/responsive/standardized Web UI capabilities, and the performance increases from in-memory & columnar databases, visual analytic displays continue to rely upon free-standing charts, static dashboards, professional-grade “data discovery” tools, or expensive and finicky consumption solutions custom-developed for particular business purposes.
In his role as Chief Product Designer for Analytics at SAP, John Armitage led the effort to design a radically simple, massively scalable, and universally relevant method for presenting and consuming multi-dimensional business data using graphical visualization. Codenamed LAVA, the result was a foundational design language – an overarching scheme or style that guides the design of a complement of products or architectural settings – for use across the SAP business software suite. It was a chance to re-envision how we consume quantitative information, informed by the new realities of the 21st century. Its goal was to design a general purpose, navigable and manipulable quantitative environment, with a consumer-grade user experience, and little to no design or maintenance effort.
John will present LAVA in the form of its product design prototypes. An example of the Design Thinking approach to product innovation, LAVA’s development was led by a series of UI prototypes, and informed by periodic customer reviews and usability tests. John published his detailed account of the project’s journey, context, and results in the book Bringing Numbers to Life: LAVA and Design-Led Innovation in Visual Analytics. The book’s contents are available free via the Interaction Design Foundation.