The Demos & Best Practices team are often asked to look at applications built by third parties and give feedback. This feedback covers technical QlikView recommendations as well as design & usability best practices. Being on the outside looking in our team tends to approach these apps in ways their developers usually haven't considered. Very often these apps are being built by developers who have been so focused on making sure the data is correct they haven't stopped to consider the user experience until they are almost finished.
With that in mind the following are a four pieces of design advice that we tend to give fairly often.
Boxes boxes everywhere.
Many developers leave borders, shadows, and caption backgrounds on their charts and list boxes. These are some of the first things the Demos & Best Practices team remove when we are overhauling an app. When every object is fenced in it makes the entire app look very boxy where all of the objects are their own little entities isolated from the other charts. Even if you aren't convinced by this reasoning the question we would pose is "how are these borders, shadows, etc. helping the app?"
No 3D charts … ever.
Like something out of Mommie Dearest you shouldn't use 3D charts. Ever. Aside from the fact that they are "aesthetically unappealing" they make reading the data difficult. In a 3D vertical bar chart does the bar terminate at the front/bottom of the top plane, the middle of the top plane, or the back/top of the plane? How are shadows in a line chart helping you to analyze your business? Is a 3D pie chart tilted into perspective easier to understand than a standard pie chart? There are ways to be creative and add some visual fun into your design (backgrounds, slight shadows dividing up the space of an app, a few icons, etc) but 3D charts isn't one of them.
Include a Dashboard page
Under the pressure to develop an app that works many developers focus on creating a variety of ways to analyze the data but forget to have a page that summarizes the data. Include a Dashboard page that gives the summary of the app. If the app is about sales include the major sales figures as well as reference sales goals and whether or not those goals were met. Who were the top five sales people? Who were the lowest five? Give a list of your top selling items as well as your worst selling ones. If it is a medical application give some high level numbers about the number of patients, doctors, hospital staff and if they are up or down from this time last year/quarter/month etc. What is the average wait time to see a doctor? How many procedures have been ordered lately and what are they costing? There are unlimited possibilities of what you could include but the idea is to give your users an overall summary of the status of things before they go into a deep dive and analyze the numbers.
If you have reoccurring objects that are on many pages keep them in the same location on each page. Use the same colors and font sizes for like minded labels, captions, and text. Design all of your pages to the same width. When things jump around it creates dissonance and users have to adjust and learn how to navigate each page. This process takes time & cognitive effort and is detracting from the time & effort they should be dedicating to using your application. Pick a style and stick to it.