We put the ‘User’ in User Experience
With an increase in number of users, the demand for better accessibility and usability of a product has also increased and this phenomenon has resulted in the evolution of User Experiences worldwide. Ever since it came into existence, ‘User Experience’ has had a huge impact in the life cycle of a product and we as ‘Users’ have also played an important role in this. One such case is of Anaplan and its user experience. Anaplan is a cloud-based tool which assists its users with the analysis and planning of real-life business use cases, for eg. Financial or Sales Planning. The tool with an easy to use and interactive user experience design, has been able to cater to the needs of its end-users efficiently.
Now, we would dive more into the details of how Anaplan tool has made the lives of its users a whole lot easier, courtesy the “User Experience”.
In Anaplan, dashboards are the means of presenting data to the end users in a suitable and intuitive manner. It is a combination of charts and grids drawn from one or more modules that allows the end users to work on the data. Dashboards can either be simple or complex depending upon the number of elements present. A dashboard containing a lot of grids and charts may be very much informative but at the same time could be less flexible and scalable. Although the grids are useful for highlighting the numerical data coming from modules, the charts are the real game-changers. Charts communicate the information more effectively and efficiently as compared to the grids.
Types of dashboards
· A Landing dashboard is the first thing users see when they open a particular model. The Landing dashboard is designed in such a way that it directs the users towards the tasks they need to perform by providing information that is relevant.
· Other types of dashboards are – Operational, Strategic or Executive and Analytical. These are used for specific purposes and for certain sets of users depending upon the need.
For the requirements such as day-to-day operations of a business, providing a high-level overview to the business strategist or for giving analytical insights into the data to the end-users, these dashboards can come in handy.
Additionally, the users have at their disposal, a range of functions like Pivot, Hide/Show, Filter, Drill Down etc. which they may utilize to obtain desired module views and accordingly do the analysis of data present on a dashboard. One thing to note here is that the dashboards are more suitable for the users who operate on or analyze the data frequently. But the option to export the data in a specific format is always open for those users who prefer simple reports over interactive reporting dashboards.
What’s ‘new’ about the New-UX?
End users view Anaplan through the User Experience, therefore the model builders design and build the experience keeping in mind the requirements of end users at all times. With the introduction of Anaplan-New UX, the real-time analysis and planning of data has become much more efficient for the users.
Pages and Apps:
Anaplan’s New User Experience (or UX) consists of Pages which act as interactive dashboards for the users and showcase data from the models. It is important to mention here that, a page can show data only from a single source model at a time even if it is associated with more than one model. Similar pages are grouped together and categorized under an App, which further focuses on a particular business use case. Since an App can have several pages, therefore it may contain data from multiple models which is an added advantage for the purpose of business planning.
Comparison with the Classic dashboards:
New-UX resides outside of a model, thus resulting in a better performance overall. End users now don’t even have to open the associated model in order to access the pages or apps. Users now have the option to decide which page-type to work on, unlike the Classic dashboards where a dedicated canvas is provided to accommodate all types of information through grids and charts. We will now look more into the different types of pages available in the New-UX.
Types of Pages:
Moving forward, a page can either be a Board, Worksheet or Report based on the requirement. Boards are used in cases where only an overview of data is sought by the end users. Worksheets are designed to portray detailed information from the models, which can be used for an in-depth analysis of data. Finally, the Reports are better suited for such users who want to view their data in a presentation-like format. Moreover, there’s a lot that differentiates these pages from each other and this is achieved through the distinctive use of Cards.
Playing with the ‘Cards’:
Anaplan provides a variety of Cards in its New-UX, each serving a different purpose. To name a few, there are
1)Action cards – Letting a user know what action they can or need to perform
2)KPI cards – Mentioning about the key-performing metrics or parameters in business terms
3)Map cards – Showing the geographical data via a Map
4)Grid and Chart cards as the name suggests, display data either in the form of a grid or interactive charts
Note: – Apart from all these features, in a Worksheet, we also have an Insights panel which can be used either as a secondary view having some tips and links to other pages or a context setter for the users to easily interpret the data.
Practice and conquer
In Anaplan, one can create personal pages as well to track and monitor their data in real-time. But then the user would only have the option to either create a Board or a Worksheet as Reports are only meant for pages of an App. Creating pages even for practicing purpose helps the end users and model builders alike, to build a strong foundation of how a user experience works? and how the data analysis over it can be mastered!
Model builders, by building more and more pages can understand the dynamics of new user experience in a better way. They can then just step into the shoes of end-users for a while to iron out the kinks left in creating a picture perfect “User Experience”.
In the New-UX, one drawback that I feel can be worked upon, is the option of opening source module from a particular page. The New-UX is better than the Classic dashboards in a lot of aspects but still these dashboards are not meant to be left behind as they can be used as secondary experiences.
Just one click away!
In today’s world since there has been so much advancement in terms of Technology, we expect everything to be at the tip of our fingers. By introducing a mobile app along with the New-UX, Anaplan has stood upto our expectations. Now the users can leverage the benefit of having Anaplan on several platforms. It ensures portability, since the users can now do an on-the-go analysis. Also, it further enhances the Anaplan’s idea of connected planning.
Anaplan has got you covered
End-users are not expected to know each and everything going at the backend of a product, their prime focus is on the Frontend. Also, the human brain is biologically evolved to visualize images more effectively as compared to the plain text and this is the reason why User Experience has an important role to play. In the New-UX, Anaplan has put forward its vision of – “All planning for all people, anywhere”, which enables a more intuitive and collaborative approach towards analysis and planning. Data analysis via Anaplan New-UX can now be done even from an amusement park. If you’re an end-user – rejoice! If you are a Model Builder – challenge yourself to create dynamic user experiences and lastly, if you are not an Anaplan user – then what are you waiting for? as Anaplan’s ever improving user experience is the way forward.