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!