The New UI
A screen­shot of Dis­cover 3.0 when you’ve opened a new tab.

Rarely have I been excited about a prod­uct release as I am about the release of Adobe Dis­cover 3.0. I’d be amiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the won­der­ful engi­neer­ing team who are some of the most user-focused engi­neers I know, and to a prod­uct man­ager who made every fea­ture request an act of ser­vice to the user, rather than a bul­let point on a list. It was a won­der­ful envi­ron­ment to design within, and out of it came a care­fully crafted UI, of which almost every detail was pon­dered upon and debated. The fol­low­ing are two design deci­sions that I believe will change the face of ana­lyt­ics within the Adobe Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Suite, or at least will get the ana­lysts geek­ing out.

1. The Dark “Car­bon” UI

Let’s face it – ana­lysts are rock stars. The insights they find have the poten­tial to drive tremen­dous ROI, and often they’re the first ones to know if some­thing on an online prop­erty is bro­ken. These ana­lysts wield enor­mous quan­ti­ties of data, and they’re the ones in the orga­ni­za­tion who really under­stand what the data really means and then pro­vide the insights needed to make nec­es­sary changes.. “So what does this have to do with a dark UI?” you ask. I’m get­ting there. In a visual design study I con­ducted at the onset of this project, a car­bon UI has cer­tain qual­i­ties that come with it. I showed a num­ber of ana­lysts three dif­fer­ent visual design con­cepts, two of which were light-themed, and one was car­bon themed. Some of the terms these ana­lysts used to char­ac­ter­ize the light designs were “Bright”, “Clear”, “Clean”, “Fresh”, and even “Bland.” The terms used to char­ac­ter­ize the dark UI were along the lines of “Power User”, “Techy”, “Edgy”, “Sleek”, “Con­tem­po­rary”, and “Creative.”

The Three Designs
These were the three sam­ple designs we showed par­tic­i­pants in the study.

So, at the end of the day, we wanted our advanced ana­lyt­ics appli­ca­tion to reflect the qual­i­ties that would res­onate with the ana­lysts who are using it. The power users who are techy enough to under­stand the data, but who are cre­ative enough to put the data together in mean­ing­ful ways; who often make sug­ges­tions that could be con­sid­ered edgy because they’ve never been con­sid­ered before.

Another point that guided our deci­sion was reduc­ing eye strain. The fact is that with a dark UI, there is less emit­ted light from the mon­i­tor enter­ing the eyes. Our research showed  that  reduced light also reduces strain on the eyes, mak­ing the expe­ri­ence feel more com­fort­able. As a prod­uct team, our goal was to think about the whole user expe­ri­ence and I can con­fi­dently say that we are deliv­er­ing an opti­mized UI to help our users find the insights they need to succeed.

An addi­tional con­sid­er­a­tion is brand con­sis­tency. If you’ve seen the Pho­to­shop 6 Beta, you’ve noticed that they’ve adopted a sim­i­lar car­bon UI as well for the rea­son that the UI should be invis­i­ble, and all the focus should be given to the art­work, or the photo, that the cre­ative user is edit­ing. We also believe with Dis­cover, the UI should fade into the back­ground, bring­ing the data tables and visu­al­iza­tions into the forefront.

2. The Free-Form Pivot Table And Table Builder

Dur­ing our research phase, I had the oppor­tu­nity to observe many ana­lysts at work, and I noticed that a good num­ber of them were using Dis­cover as sim­ply a data source. They would run reports, then copy and paste the data into Excel to begin the “real” analy­sis. While I am not a pro­po­nent of remov­ing Excel com­pletely from the analy­sis work­flow, I saw this trend as an oppor­tu­nity to add value to Dis­cover. The analy­sis per­formed in Excel often involved piv­ot­ing the data, and look­ing at it in dif­fer­ent ways. It was clear to me and our team that there was no rea­son why this pivot func­tion­al­ity couldn’t actu­ally be done in Dis­cover. I am excited to share that we have added the abil­ity to add any com­bi­na­tion of dimen­sion, met­ric and seg­ment to the table and retrieve data dynam­i­cally. We believe this will be a much more effi­cient way to per­form analy­sis. Now ana­lysts can pivot their data, and build tables to their heart’s con­tent right in Dis­cover. By see­ing the data in dif­fer­ent ways, and by being able to per­form break­downs by any dimen­sion, seg­ment, or met­ric, we have seen that ana­lysts are able to uncover insights more quickly – at nearly the speed of thought.

Table Builder Screenshot
The table builder in action. Build­ing a com­plex report is as sim­ple as drag & drop.

In addi­tion to these two major design changes, you’ll notice many other gems that are new in Dis­cover 3.0 such as the fol­low­ing:  date selec­tion, seg­men­ta­tion, pathing reports, and time-by-time com­par­i­son. Feel free to browse the release notes, help sec­tion and train­ing videos to help you get under­way. And, if you thought this release was cool, the next major release will be at least 20% cooler!