User Engagement in the Data Visualization Development Process

If you build a data visualization, but it doesn't engage the interest of your audience, all your work is for naught. User engagement throughout the development process is the key to success.

Problems with user engagement usually take one of these forms:

  • No user engagement: Lack of user engagement is the most common scenario. Data visualization developers go off into a dark corner to gather requirements and create; then they pop up later with something that the user is unhappy with. This situation is called the "nuclear bomb." The data viz is built delicately and secretly, but when it's finally presented, the effect is like a destructive explosion.

  • Too much user engagement: The other extreme is too much user engagement — particularly when you lose control of the conversation and get a never-ending list of change requests from your users.

Some key elements may help you strike the right balance with your users. When you have the appropriate amount of user engagement, you can gain your users' trust, maintain it, and deliver a big data visualization that exceeds their expectations.

The following table lists some ways to engage users. These techniques go a long way toward building trust and credibility.

User Engagement Technique Description Result
Promptness Respect start and end times for meetings and the project. Doing so goes a long way to keeping your users engaged long-term. Users view you and the development process as being professional.
Focus Ensure that all meetings stay focused. Users perceive you as being in control of situation.
Organization Set an agenda for meetings, and stick to it. If you say that you're going to show users something, have it ready for viewing as promised. Users recognize that you have a high level of professionalism and are serious about your tasks.
Productivity Ensure that all goals are accomplished within the allotted time. Users will be willing to return to you for future data visualization projects.
Appearance When meeting your audience, dress professionally, and be ready to conduct business. Users view you as a senior resource who has more authority than lower-level colleagues.
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