Analytics Dashboard

February 2015

As part of the analytics exploration, I have made five rounds of wireframes and designs based on user stories we wrote and prioritized with our audience development team.

This project was part of the Rethink project, aimed at being a feature added to the CMS-layer we were building internally at the Washington Post.

The primary idea behind the analytics dashboard was to provide writers and editors with quick, at-a-glance metrics and relative performance data that can help them better understand their audience. Getting simple data and analytics into their hands was meant to empower journalists and help them understand how their stories were being received after publishing.

I created a dashboard and series of modules that could be integrated into various newsroom tools. The idea wasn't to create a replacement for Chartbeat or Omniture – those are very specialized tools with deeper levels of information that will continue to be used. Instead, it was meant to provide an overview of relative performance and inform journalists of how their work resonates with their readers.

The process began with a day-long deep dive of what we were hoping to accomplish, what our priorities were, and how we wanted to integrate numbers and data into our newsroom tools. After going through several exercises we were able to write a bunch of user stories that could be used to begin the design process.

This is how we cataloged all of our ideas into groups on the whiteboard:

I created my wireframes and designs using InDesign. I set up the document so each page had a focus – like Engagement, Visitors, Audience, etc. That way, I was able to focus on creating a system across all types of analytics, while allowing myself to dive deeper on the specifics for each category.

After working through the design, I met with members of my team and some folks around the newsroom to get feedback. Sometimes I was so far in the weeds on specific concepts or patterns that I needed fresh eyes and a new perspective to help guide me along. I did this about 5 or 6 times. Each time I completed a round of feedback, I cataloged all questions and comments within the document. This worked really well when I reviewed new concepts or changes as the designs progressed.

Here are some examples of the modules I created:

These modules can be dense. When designing something this data-heavy and complex, it was super important to think about how a journalist would be finding and looking at them. I wanted to make sure they didn't seem overwhelming and were easily scannable. Some numbers were easier than others – in fact, there is still work to be done there. The last thing I want to do is make looking at these feel stressful!

This project was an interesting challenge for me. I never thought I would be working on internal tools and CMS features, but it's been really rewarding. Internal tools, for the most part, are usually the worst things ever (like, have you ever heard anyone say "holy shit, I love my CMS so much!") ...and that is such a missed opportunity. The UX for these tools can be just as thoughtful as something for our consumer-facing audience. It's amazing to think of the possibilities once the newsroom has their hands on this stuff.

I worked with the fabulous Ryan Kellett, Jess Stahl, Ed Mullen, Mike Stamm and Jessie Tseng throughout this process.