I’m always hearing about something new the SAS user experience (UX) team is working on. From their competitive entry in the VAST challenge to hosting a report design makeover raffle, this team constantly pushes the creativity envelope to not only sharpen its expertise, but also share it with users. In comes the latest endeavor: producing report design best practices on the SAS web site.
I caught up with the team – Cheryl Coyle, Distinguished UX Designer, Mark Malek, Sr. Associate UX Designer, Jeanne Marie Tan, Sr. Associate UX Designer, Karen Mobley, Senior Technical Writer and Sam Pipkin, Technical Writer at SAS – on the thinking behind these best practices pages. I got a good background on the project and discovered ways the team is looking for YOUR help to determine future topics. Read on for details in this Q&A.
I’ve heard the SAS UX team published some best practices for report design. What was the idea behind them?
Sure. Let me give you some context. Our users quickly become experts in the features of SAS Visual Analytics (VA), and know their domain very well. However, telling a story from data using tables, charts and indicators is not intuitive, especially if it is a complex story and has a wide audience.
When we have been lucky enough to meet and talk with SAS VA report designers, one of the most common questions we get is if we have best practices for creating well-designed reports. Until now, the answer has always been no, not formally. We wanted to be able to change our response and give report designers something they are asking us for. So, we started pulling content together to publish on a website. You can see the beginnings of our best practices site in this working site.
Are the best practices specific for SAS Visual Analytics visualizations or more general tips for report design … or both?
Our primary audience is the creator of reports/visualizations in SAS Visual Analytics. However, many if not most of our best practices provide guidance for report design in general. Our examples and tips are based on VA.
Why is this project exciting for you?
We are very excited by this project because it is another opportunity for us to reach out to our customers, and for them to access SAS’ collective design expertise. Report design is about more than picking fonts and colors. Design influences overall perception of quality, and it impacts a report reader’s understanding of the data. It’s wonderful that our customers realize this, and it’s rewarding for us to assist them in creating visually pleasing, effective reports.
What’s the latest with the site?
As you can see in the pages, we’ve already tackled the practices of limiting pages and objects and adding white space. We’ve started asking VA and design experts across SAS to contribute content. In addition, we’d love to get input from VA report builders themselves. What topics are of most interest to them, and which topics would they like to see on the site next?
This is where you come in, community! Help drive the next phase of this report–design-best practices project. Take this brief survey and let us know what areas most interest you.