Growing out of the Worldwide Telescope project from Microsoft Research, Power Map looked to build an accessible data visualization tool that could would allow customers to look at information in new ways. I led the initial visual and interaction design work, helping to explore and develop user-centric solutions as we built a new medium for storytelling through analytics.
With many projects in SBG (Small Business Group), the technology drives the interest but the user experience solidifies the product. The team needed a steady hand. One that could deliver cohesive vision covering interaction and visual design to transform the concept from a good idea to friendly and usable product.
One challenge was to analyze and deliver recommendations for improving the intitial experience of geocoding your location values onto the map. The initial approach was convoluted as it included all data columns as possible sources, even if they weren't geographic data. Having these options visible was confusing to early alpha user and had been communicated via direct feedback
In (Figures 2-4), I concepted a few different approaches to reduce possible using simple text parsing of the column headers. Values that we had high confidence (or matched) we're shown, other were left unconfirmed, but could be added for use manually. I worked with our user researcher to evaluate these solutions. Figure 4 was the preferred direction with our customers.
In addition to the prior work, I also pitched some blue-sky concepts for the initial step that we evaluated with our customers. They tested favorably, but needed many more resources and time we didn't have available. (Figure 5)
In addition to my UX responsibilities, I also led the design of the visual direction for the beta product. This included creating our ribbon icons and developing unqiue and patterned styles for various controls, map overlay visualizations and application shell elements.