What is big data and how does it fit into UI web design

Big Data – what is big data and how does it fit into web design? For me, the best example of dealing with big data in a clean, concise and visually pleasing way has to be Google. And searching is really the only way to access big data successfully. Browsing alone isn’t really an option with such huge amounts of data. A good search with auto-suggest, excludable filters, clickable meta data, tags, tabbed filters, faceted category navigation with numbered filters and sortable fields will all make finding information easy. Displaying that information in a visually pleasing way will depend a lot on what the data is, but, heat maps and location based mapping combined with simple, at-a-glance visuals such as bar charts, plot graphs and pie charts seem to be a good way to go with personal, location based data. Dragable Point clouds could work in a 3D space with each point offering information in a doughnut style chart when hovered over. D3 (http://mbostock.github.com/d3/) looks like a very interesting visualisation tool that utilises html5, SVG and css3. Obviously, CSS3 animations could be used to great effect to visualise data and there’s a wealth of experimentation going on out there with CSS3 animations now.

UI/UX in your web design project

With big data, the complexity needs to be tamed and made simple but simple doesn’t dictate that we have to remove the complexity. Keeping the UI simple is a good approach to web design but simple to one might not be simple to another so the UI should allow for different levels of user. Complexity can be powerful and empower the user. Gradual engagement can help the user get to grips with complex tasks the first time they need to do them so that they learn bit by bit as they use more complex parts of the UI. Principles such as Occams razor can help tune the UI and keep it lean but the design still needs to be interactively logical and be visually engaging.

I’ve always believed that design should illicit an emotional response and UX a logical response. There are many different products available to consumers – mobile phones for example – but it’s the ones that get the emotional and logical responses right that normally do best, such as Apple. One simple question I always ask myself when designing websites and UI’s is “does the user have everything they need?”. Allowing the user to achieve complex tasks simply and easily without having to think too much or search around for buttons is the key to a good UI. Working with a lot of complex data means we’ll need to consider interesting, original and appropriate methods of navigating, searching and sorting data while keeping the overall interface simple and logical. Colours, icons, smart default settings, graphical representations of data will all help make the complexity easy to digest. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make a UI easy to use, such as auto tabbing to the next field when the current field is full or making sure the user doesn’t have to think to much. One pet hate of mine is having to work out the month number when entering credit card details and the drop down only has the month names listed. Just adding the month number to the drop down as well as the month name is such a small change but makes a huge difference to the user experience.

kc web design kent can create engaging user interfaces for any types of software or web apps so get in touch with us for an informal chat today.

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