UX Design: Role of Experience Maps

While scanning the UX design space, I came across “experience maps”, a technique for modeling business processes in order to better understand it and then,  based on that understanding ,  design a UX which takes into account the functional as well as psychological needs of the users. Let’s take a scenario to explain this idea.

When you go to a site to perform something e.g. register for a utility service. There are certain things which occupy your mind at different stages of the whole process. e.g. in this case, different stages might be:

  • When you are registering for a service
  • When you have registered for service and are using it
  • When you want to terminate service

At each stage, as a user, you might be engaged in multiple mental activities e.g.

  • Doing something (e.g. registering, terminating etc.)
  • Thinking  (about various aspects of the service)
  • Feeling  (whether this is right or wrong decision)
  • Experiencing (overall experience of the process)

Now at the time of registering service, you might be thinking whether this service provider is offering you fair price?, should I re-consider other options?, how costly it would be to switch service provider later on?, are there any hidden fees?  etc. Similarly when you have registered for the service, you may be interested in things like analyzing your service usage, viewing your billing history, upgrading or degrading service etc.

All of the above thoughts represent the psychological needs of the users. For a registered user, you should provide easily accessible tools to analyze usage and billing history. I remember how hard it was for me to unsubscribe from a credit score web site.  Finally I found the option, but that bad experience prohibits me to refer anyone else to this site.

As a designer, whatever system you design, you should always consider user needs (functional as well as psychological) during the whole process and design each aspect of the system, especially UX,  so that system meets these needs in best possible way.

Here is an example of an experience map which captures the rail booking process and explains different thoughts that occupy user’s mind during whole process.

Self Service BI in Microsoft Ecosystem – Part 02

This is second blog about Self Service BI and it focuses on delivering self-service BI using Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft BI capabilities are embedded in three different products: SQL Server, SharePoint and Office. In this article, we will focus on Self Service BI capabilities in Office (Excel) and SharePoint.

Excel has always been primary choice for number crunching.  Previously, almost every major BI vendor had extensions available for Excel.  Microsoft finally realized to use Excel as a primary tool for delivering BI as well as enabling power users to perform ad-hoc data analysis.  Following diagram shows various components in Excel which enable self Service BI.

Power BI Excel

Here is brief description of each tool.

Power Query

Power Query is a mini ETL tool. It enables to discover public as well as enterprise data sources, and then connect, extract, and transform data from these sources.  You can perform certain data cleansing operations as well as define new calculated columns.   You can also augment enterprise data with public data sources e.g. an insurance company can use car crash data available publically along with their own statistics to see patterns or identify an anomaly. Following screenshot shows options available in Power Query tab.

Power Query

Power Pivot

Once data has been sourced and transformed by Power query, it can be added in Power Pivot data model. Power Pivot enables to combine data from various sources and build data model within Excel. You can define relationships in tables, define new columns, calculate measures using data analysis expressions (DAX).   This becomes very handy when you have to combine enterprise data sources with public data sources like data from Azure Data Marketplace.  Following screen shot shows Power Pivot designer.

Power Pivot

Power View

Once data model has been designed, you can create visualizations using Power View. Power View is built into Excel to create dashboards, containing multiple charts, graphs, tables and filters. User can interact with views to sort, filter and slice and dice information. It eliminates the need to talk to IT to design basic ad-hoc reports for business. Power user can create powerful visualization themselves and share it on the web. Below screen shot shows a power view screen.

Power View

Power Map

Power Map provides geospatial and 3D mapping capabilities in Excel. Users can plot data on the map as well as create convincing story boards for presentations.

Power Map

Power BI

All of the components discussed earlier are built into Excel. Once you have design reports in workbooks, you can use Power BI to share these reports on the web. Power BI also enables to generate natural language queries.  Excel Services in SharePoint Online can automatically refresh data by connecting to enterprise data sources. Power BI also provision of My Power BI sites to aggregate reports from various sites as favorites so that you have all the information available at one place.

Power BI

Windows Power BI App delivers same BI capabilities on mobile devices. Here is how Power BI app delivers BI on mobile devices.

Power BI App


In next part, we can talk about a real life business scenario in retail and see how it can be solved by using self-service BI components.

Note: Few images are taken from publicly available sample workbooks from Microsoft.

For discussion about Self Service BI, click Self Service BI in Microsoft Ecosystem – Part 01.