There’s a very interesting article in the Guardian on mobile software design for the real world. One of the points they make is, through watching phone users, the authors of Polar have established that 49% of users drive their phone apps with just one thumb. This is interesting to the app designers for all kinds of reasons. This observational approach can lead to improved KPI reports and dashboard design as well.
How do the managers in your organisation use the management information reports that are given to them? It is worth watching discreetly and open your mind. Questions you should try to answer include:
- Do they read reports in, before meetings or at all?
- Are they reading printed or electronic copies – there’s a big difference in the information density that either will support (see this article for some in-depth ideas on how to improve readability)
- How long do they typically focus for before they lose attention?
- Are they reading the section(s) relevant to the discussion or are they reading another part?
- Which sections of an MI pack do they show a visible interest in? Adding of notes can be a good indicator of this.
Watching for these indicators may give you a much more realistic verdict on the successes and failures of your current reports than asking a direct question. Like the point in childhood where you stopped drawing stick figures with arms coming out of the middle of the body, you may find yourself asking why you ever designed reports the way you are doing it now.