Friday, March 9, 2018

Designing Data Driven applications

Data is one of the key factors for businesses to identify its operational strengths and weaknesses. The key insights from data analysis can point out opportunities to boost performance and efficiency. Therefore the data-driven designing remains as much of an art as it is a science, especially for customer-facing applications with both a large number of users and large datasets. How an application presents data plays a huge role in UX
Following are some of the tips and tricks to develop simple and clear data-visualization for app dashboards, web pages, and so on.


Enabling customers to create their digital persona such as managing their accounts, checking their usage, and personalizing their services, etc is a game changer.
The three checkpoints that need to be considered are:
Inform: Customers pay attention when they’re offered helpful and useful data. For example, a travel booking tool that analyzes historical data to advise customers on when to purchase travel.
Connect: Data-driven apps and personalized experiences can connect users to brands. For example, an online shop that uses QR codes and a mobile app to blend advertising and online shopping.
Motivate: The ultimate goal of data is to influence customer behavior. Together, data and context drive participation and engagement.


As much as artificial intelligence and machine learning will keep improving, most organizations will still need human intervention to crunch uncategorized data. Data-driven applications tend to be used by multiple persons within or outside of an organization, you need to identify those personas so you can organize your information architecture wireframes and tasks to meet everyone’s needs.

Here every user/persona has different taste in the data visualization, but the design takes care of each users interest
Erik Klimcz, the Senior Design Leader at Uber and Advanced Technologies Group, shared some actionable tips on Medium. He suggests UX designers need to first identify, then define users or personas for every project.


It’s not just about making heavy, contextual data fluid and appealing. You also want to design data presentations that provide clarity on the following
Users should know what data is the most important: One vital UX design principle is to observe and implement a hierarchy of information – in this case, visual hierarchy. You want to organize, arrange, and prioritize the most important data first, and additional data later. Of course, the order of priority will vary depending on the application’s user. Not only does doing this declutter the dashboard, but it also helps direct the user’s focus on what’s important to them in an easy to follow, less overwhelming way.

In the above example, we notice the captured data is given higher priority, followed by lifetime data and goes further to activity breakdown
Users should be able to comprehend the logical flow of data: Simplicity plays a major role in helping the user to connect the data to a certain outcome. You can add an intuitive drop-down menu, which when the user clicks, slides down to reveal additional information, and then specific tasks or items. People love this, and it’s gaining popularity already.
You can use clickable links or rollovers to reveal more information. Also, functions such as slide-to-reveal data and zoom-in-to-reveal are great ways to include additional information or highlight key data points. All using simple, natural gestures. This allows users to click on the links or rollovers they perceive as important to their job and leave the ones they consider less important.

This example shows a simple, elegant and comprehensive view of the data using various interactive functions
Use hover animations: You can use hover animation effects to add more zing, engagement, and usefulness to the (seemingly) dull data. Hover animations are particularly actionable for supplying additional information on specific tasks or items while helping to organize and clean up your data-driven application.
Users should be able to understand what the data means: After organizing and prioritizing data on the dashboard, the next step is to break down the data into separate pages. If it is possible to categorize the information, be sure to allocate different pages/screens for different data bundles.
Users should be able to understand the next step to take: Following hot on the steps above, it becomes easier for users to identify and relate patterns in the raw data – another key win to aim for when designing for data-heavy applications. When the data visualization tools you use help the users to make sense of big data, that’s when you know you have done a great job.


The purpose of UX design is to convey a message in a clear and actionable way. This is especially crucial for designing data-heavy applications. In this case, the business of good design is to help analysts or managers or end users make an informed decision. And users cannot interpret and use raw data to inform a decision if they do not make good sense of it and how it is presented. Designing for data-heavy UX projects should not be as exasperating as it seems. The above tips and tricks can help you figure out how to design for data-heavy interfaces.

Magento’s eCommerce Edge Over Opencart

Picking the right eCommerce platform for your business’s online existence is not so easy given that there are quite a variety of options available in the market with varying degree of features. Picking the best platform is important to ensure that both the business and its customers have the basic ease of use. Two eCommerce platforms that serve as open source PHP based content management systems (CMS) are Magento and Opencart. Since both these systems have no user fee for basic platform building, the difference markers between these sources are the customization and additional features. To narrow things and help your business make the right decision, here are five basic factors that reveal the pros and cons of both Magento and Opencart.
  • Access: The major line of difference between Magento and Opencart is its user interface, wherein the former eCommerce platform needs professionals to develop and customize features for businesses. On the contrary, Opencart allows businesses to equip the platform and get it running easily with its simple UI and inbuilt interface. Despite Magento’s complicated PHP interface, it offers the best options for building on a platform at any given point in time for the business.
  • Customization: Every business needs its unique signature to be imprinted on the eCommerce platform to build the brand. Magento stands miles apart from Opencart due to its extensive customization features that can help the business to experiment as well as build a user-catchy platform according to themes, seasons, special events, etc.
  • Content marketing: Magento’s other great advantage over Opencart lies in its smoothly integrated SEO tools. While the basic SEO tools are well structured in both Magento and Opencart, the major edge is that Magento’s tools are well-rooted and easier to master due to the incorporation of schema markup and canonical tags.
  • Market presence: Opencart is fairly new to the arena and has fewer adopters as compared to Magento that has more than 20% market share with more than 14,000 stores in Alexa’s top 1 million platforms. This existent presence of Magento gives its users the ability to connect and be backed easily on the web than any other eCommerce platform source on the market.
  • Costs: At the end of the day, the primary criteria for choosing between Magento and Opencart lies in its cost incurrences over time. While Opencart is fairly cheaper due to its simpler structure hosting, Magento needs businesses to spend based on the services being sought. However, the pricing of the features after hosting are heavy, Magento’s services match up to the costs.
One last criterion that could possibly help in making the final decision between Magento and Opencart lies in the scalability of the platforms over time. For a smaller company that just needs a website entry, Opencart can serve the easy route. For a business that is focused on growing over time and having the best user-interface would benefit from Magento as these eCommerce platforms are built for customization perfection with the best capabilities to monitor user behavior, etc. Magento offers the most up-to-date features for those businesses that are driven solely based on the internet presence. For a business that has specific needs that vary periodically, Magento would be a best-suited eCommerce platform, provided it is ready to invest in dedicated resources to get the platform up and functional from day one. 

What Magento 2 Enterprise can offer over Community

For an online-shop looking to scale its operations or looking at improving conversion rate, this is one of the key questions. Magento 2 EE comes with an exciting feature list such as multiple wish lists, automated e-mail marketing scheduling (multi-level re-targeting), customer segmentation, easy and hassle-free payments and much more to engage customers with an easy and safe shopping experience. These features make the customer’s shopping experience really smooth, making them like your brand and increasing the chances of their coming back to you.
While the cost is the main concern, there are many other reasons behind this dilemma.
Every e-commerce business is unique with a unique set of needs but we can detail some key differences between Community Edition and Enterprise Edition so that the merchants have a better understanding of where to start. Let’s take a look at them:
CostWhen comparing Magento 2 Community Edition and Magento 2 Enterprise Edition, the first visible difference, and cause of concern is the cost. While Magento 2 Community Version is Free; the license for Magento 2 Enterprise Edition comes at a cost. This can be justified by the advanced features and capabilities that come with it and if it is meeting your goals.
Targeted Promotions, Persistent Shopping and Private SalesSuccessful e-commerce businesses know the art of the upsell and cross-sell. It is all about appealing to the buyer on the way out and during the customer to buy more. Keeping this in mind Magento 2 Enterprise Edition comes with a feature of Targeted Promotions whereas Community Version does not have this feature. Again, the Enterprise Edition comes with a feature of persistent shopping and private sales for the merchants whereas the community version does not give you this feature.
Automated E-mail Marketing Reminder
With Enterprise Editions automated e-mail marketing reminder feature the retailer can understand how each customer acts. This provides the ability to retarget the customers with relevant offers based on real actions. By understanding which store’s products interest the customers, the length of their decision-making process and what they care about provides a boost to their marketing activities.
24*7 Technical SupportThe merchants who go for Magento 2 Enterprise Edition enjoy a 24*7 technical support but in community edition, you need to rely on the community support which is not always reliable.
Gifting option and Reward PointsMagento 2 Enterprise Edition adds the reward points to the customer’s account which can be redeemed whenever they want. The Community Version does not give you this great option. The EE also comes with a gifting option for customers which the CE does not have. The customers can present those gifts to their family and friends, increasing your Brand’s credibility and customers.
Multiple Wish-Lists and Configurable Order Tracking WidgetMagento 2 EE comes with a feature for customers to make their own wish-lists. These wish-lists can then be viewed by other customers to get an idea of what people are buying and even allow choosing from other person’s wish-list. Magento 2 EE also allows the customers to track their placed order’s status by just filling in some basic order details. The CE of Magento 2 does not have both the above-mentioned features.
PA-DSS Certification/ Payment ProcessMagento 2 EE complies with Payment Application Data Security Standards to provide a smooth and secure mode of payment to the customers. This enhances the overall shopping experience for the customers with your company. Whereas, the CE does not comply with PA-DSS certification for payments.
These are some of the main features to highlight the difference between Magento 2 EE and CE.
But are these features enough to use Magento 2 Enterprise Edition instead of Community Edition? It depends on the business objectives and growth. If one has the ability to implement most of the EE features with the help of third-party solutions in CE then you need to keep in mind that the cost will vary depending on the add-on functionality. One needs to also bear in mind that overloading the application with extensions, performance and security can go down south. In conclusion, Magento 2 Enterprise Edition is definitely a better option for larger merchants who want to scale up their online store and don’t want to deal with customizations and enhancements.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Magento Enterprise delivers enhanced experience and powerful marketing to drive higher conversions

Every great online shopping experience in the minds of innovative marketers and merchandisers. From optimizing the website content, merchandising the products, to creating awesome marketing campaigns and promotions.
With Magento Enterprise Edition 2.1 you could empower your online store to deliver more engaging shopping experience faster and easier than ever before.
The top six ways in which Magento Enterprise magnifies your business into a brand are:
1. Ease of content staging and preview:
Most times, businesses battle with the hassle of customizing seasonal campaigns and running them at the scheduled time periods. With Magento’s user-friendly tools, a business can effectively
  • Pre-schedule the required updates
  • Preview them on the timeline dashboard
  • Run a test-run up to the point of checkout to ensure the programmed promotions work on dot,
  • Ability to easily share across the team in order to make real-time changes.
This way, the scheduled promotion runs on the appointed date and time without the need for human interference which might otherwise cause time delays, etc.
2. Enable ease-of-payment:
Magneto Enterprise Edition features PayPal enhancements that streamline the checkout experience and boost sales. The increase in conversion rates is almost 69% as the shoppers can pay with PayPal without ever leaving the site. The ability to securely store the credit card information through PayPal Saved Credit Cards means fewer security headaches, and more frequent purchases, as the Customers can check out quickly without entering their credit card information.
3. Scope for growth:
Magneto Enterprise Edition’s “Elasticsearch”, which uses the latest technological algorithms for search assistance, allows businesses to easily handle their catalogs in tandem with customer preferences. This allows for a higher conversion rate as shoppers can easily find what they are looking for. This feature is compatible with 33 languages, has “stop words” selection, synonymous search result optimization, and is also designed to handle large catalogs as a business grows.
4. Tuned for PCI Compliance:
The most common problems with businesses are the struggle to comply with PCI due to the payment portal restrictions from third parties. With the use of Magento’s new hosted fields that is integrated with Braintree, you can keep the checkout experience and the conversion rate within the control of your business. This integration of Braintree only replaces individual fields.
5. Margin-less deployment:
Magento has adapted its deployment through cloud strategy to allow businesses to focus on their customers without having to worry about the website infrastructure. In order to suit the retailer needs and environment (cloud, on-site, or hosted premises), a business can effectually build its storefront and optimize without any security restrictions via AWS.
6. Customer Segmentation and Personalization:
With Magneto Enterprise Edition 2.1 business can study its own input on the customer’s trends. This will help in building an effective marketing campaign that would suit its. This standout feature also ensures that a business can set up functional cross-sell and upsell features, and gift bundles that offer the best in-house prices for new customers. In addition, their VIP customers, which can be easily located based on buying and spending pattern, would receive personalized offers and irresistible deals that enable a definite conversion.
Magento Enterprise Edition empowers both online and multichannel merchants. Match that with a great site design that is simple and easy for the customers and you’ll be on the path to continued and greater success.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Effective Integration Practices That Can Help Maximize the Potential of Mobile BI and Analytics

Mobile phones break through the traditional computing platforms as they help organizations to maximize their decision making potential irrespective of travel or location using Business intelligence (BI) and analytics. A smooth flow of data from the executive to operational level is possible when mobile devices infuse applications, services, and native functionality with computing, data discovery, communication, multimedia content, and transaction inputs. The integration allows for the refining customer and partner relations, employee yield, business operation, and sales and service in more than one innovative way.

BI and analytics are two tools that help innovate the data insights obtained from a mobile activity. While organizations initially fretted upon this idea for security breach and performance concerns, technological development has broken through these obstacles and paved the way for deploying secured applications on user devices. Instead of mobile applications being a replica of desktop-based BI reports, dashboards, and analytic capabilities, organizations are focused on engineering applications that enhance maximum user adoption to allow for better business’s operations, relationships and decisions.
Six of the crucial practices required for maximizing the potential of mobile BI and analytics are:
1. Development of Mobile BI and Analytics to expand business horizons
Businesses require easy access to data even when their personnel is out of the office because most business deals get negotiated right across the table. In order to improve the business’s operational efficiency, mobile BI and analytics allow for the access of customer information when dealing with business transactions on the go. A business person would be able to take decisions with aid from the ready access to data to ensure that opportunities for the business are never missed. By utilizing mobile applications that are developed with these capabilities, executives, managers, and frontline personnel can fundamentally change business interactions for the better. Moreover, the data collected on the field can be easily added on to the business’s data collection by allowing for write back capabilities in the mobile applications.
2. Adapting mobile applications into a collaborative environment
Since mobile phones have limited space for display of detailed visualization and data, the applications have to be designed to adapt the phone’s native functionality to generate the best BI and analytics solution. As the needs of the users grow, the applications need to accommodate easier navigation by using cloud computing platform in order to be able to access the information across mobile devices, desktops, and workstations. Only by using open application programming interfaces (APIs), BI and analytics can be smoothly integrated into the mobile environment to help focus on important elements such as key performance indicators (KPIs), real-time analytic trends, etc. Designers should also integrate other communicative applications such as email and social media to allow a business to access it clients at any point in time.
3. Analyze user experiences to improve satisfaction.
There is a lot of back work that has to be efficiently incorporated for making mobile BI and analytics successful. To start with expanding the adoption, performance, design, and relevance of mobile applications through every organization will help collect user’s data every time they tap on the screen or perform an action. Mobile devices supply geolocation data that can provide contextual insights into both performance issues and application use. A strategic monitoring and analyses of user experience can help understand and cater to each individual’s user experience both online and offline.
4. Use native device functionality to improve the user experience.
Compared to PCs and workstations, users are always excited about working with mobile which possesses native functionality such as touch gesturing, photography, integration with voice, video, and text communication, hands-free voice command capabilities, and integration with geolocation functionality. Designers should construct BI and analytics tools that can function in coordination with the mobile device’s inherent native functions such as OS interface, GPS, Push notification, offline applications, etc, to enable a simple access for any form of data. Breaking these boundaries will naturally help business to move beyond simple data or analytics consumption and build a two-way channel that can further their goals for data-informed decision making, smarter operations, and competitive advantages based on information innovation.
5. Secure an overall security strategy
Although mobiles have an inherent level of OS security, it is still a major concern whether it is part of an existing or new architecture. Businesses need to ensure that sensitive data is secure during data transfer between the applications and databases and the mobile server accessed by users, which can be situated behind the firewall. Procedures to deal with a lost or stolen device to ensure data is not compromised should be established. Further, the business’s identity, authentication, and access management processes should be securely set up so that functionality privileges and access permissions only go to select mobile users.
6. Move beyond analytics consumption to turn insights into action 
The addition of write-back functionality can be useful for creating data-driven mobile applications wherein users, be it the business or its customers, can input data from mobile devices into business applications such as ERP, CRM, OLTP, or other system-of-record application. This functionality will allow for personnel to respond to updated situations, and using the latest data, they could also create on-demand reports and visualizations that would aid the organization in determining correct strategies based on real-time views.
Final Word
Many organizations have barely scratched the surface with mobile BI and analytics. Yet their personnel are increasing their use of mobile devices, putting pressure on organizations to make faster progress toward enabling users to interact with data and apply insights for better business outcomes. With industry practices and technologies maturing, the time is right for organizations to develop mobile applications that further their goals for data-informed decision making, smarter operations, and competitive advantages based on information innovation.

Monday, January 29, 2018

How To De-clutter Your BI Dashboards To Discover Key Insights

Data, the primary key to everyday business opportunities, has gotten complex over the years due to technological challenges like data blending and data wrangling. The numerous complexities are a result of the scope and variety of big data and the integration of visualization and analytics tools. These glitches have not only slowed down data preparation but also affected the analytics stage. The effective use of data preparation tools can reverse the cycle of 80:20 ratios for data preparation and analytics into 20:80 proportions. In order to bring about this reversal, and accelerate the data preparation process, reduce waste and rework, and minimize complexity, data dashboards – the center of all data compilation and extraction- have to be effectively organized.
A data dashboard is the core information management system that helps to visually track, analyze and display the metrics of your business, key performance indicators, and other tandems that constitute the health of a business. These dashboards are customized according to the workflow process, and it is a superfluous system that connects all your data in the backdrop but presents it in the form of gauges and interpretable data. While the use of this system ensures real-time management of a business with integrated technology, most businesses fail to use them to their maximum potential because of inefficient structuring or organizing.
Three effective ways to prep your data dashboard for better productivity within a business are:
1. Streamline the right metrics: Most times, businesses just load up all their data and pick only the flashy appealing numbers and leave out the gruesome details. This is because the data entered is having too many metrics to filter out. The best strategy would be to set up only the crucial metrics for your business and streamline the rest of the data around these core metrics so that data inputs are the same but only better. Marketing data is the core of operations for an advertising company. If this company has finance at its core and marketing aligned as a subset, then the data generated will be drastically different from what is really required.
2. Don’t bog down with vanity metrics: A services related business does not require a crucial input from social media score, so, moving it to a different composition can ensure that sales are the prime focus and marketing is a secondary focus. All irrelevant metrics are crucial to a business and cannot be ignored, ensuring that all these dashboards are separately set up, monitored, and then integrated into the core reports can dramatically double up data efficiency.
3. Integrate into the open: Every department in a business is overprotective and keen on not opening their books to other departments. Just like a business needs open channels between all departments, the data on the dashboard should be open to the crucial analysts of each department and not restricted to a narrow channel at the end of the line. Allowing branching out ensures that some key factors can be interchangeably used by the unrelated department to identify crucial problems.
How Can you help?: While the above factors can benefit across the business, individual analysts too should help to de-clutter and effectively streamline data on the dashboard.The best ways to regulate the effective prep data for the dashboard would be to:
  • Focus on what task you have been assigned so that too many people do not enter irrelevant feeds into the dashboard. Organize your team to handle each metrics individually, and streamline the dashboard.
  • Don’t focus on dolling up a visually appealing end report. Set data as your priority on your dashboard and use the actual data to finish the end reports. This will ensure a solid output rather than just figurative numbers.
  • Stay away from data that is beyond your scope. Feeding on data through automation tools can help avoid human errors.
  • Do not dissect the data till you have integrated them across all metrics of the business. Instead of trying to break down data where and how you want, categorical logging will ensure the data is recorded at every required base and not lost in transition through channels.
  • Follow the business’s categorization protocol, remove duplicate data, and scrub out both the dirty data (useless data) and outdated data.
  • Lastly, don’t try to fit the data from the board into the wrong puzzle, sort it and match it. Also, ensure to check, revise, and update any misconnecting data that can churn out inefficient results.
The constant up gradation of algorithms will require the analysts and users of data dashboard to think on their feet and adapt clear-cut methods to align the dashboard to generate utility value. Every business has its own needs, but if they reorganize and simplify the collection of data, then there could be no hurdles to insightful analytics.

Friday, January 19, 2018

How Big Data Will Change Businesses In 2018

Market trends suggest that with an approximate growth of about $7.3 billion in 2018, the big data market size will be bound to break the $40 billion mark by the end of the year. The demanding growth in big data analytics has induced various industries to begin implementing and updating their big data systems to adapt to the higher workloads.

Structured and unstructured data has cracked the world of computational data and analytics into a divide. While algorithms and tools have enabled the easy categorization of structured data, unstructured data is left unsorted due to its complexity beyond the comprehension of simple tools. Unstructured data has been left out of most databases and wasted simply due to the sheer impossibility to classify or structure it into simpler forms.
Increased integration of business intelligence tools:
The implementation of machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and neural networks into the working processes of industries have begun to rapidly shrink the gap between structured and unstructured data. The intensive research in the fields of business intelligence is ensuring that all unstructured forms of data are analyzed, organized, scaled, and even used to predict trends which will not just generate viable data but also offer the required advantage for businesses to tap into unforeseen patterns to dramatically improve their key processes. Forrester has predicted that, with more than 70% of businesses integrating AI modules, businesses will have to be quicker and “think on their feet” to quickly tap into the upcoming trends and beat the competition.
The structuring of dark data:
Dark data that has constantly been discarded as unusable and left literally in the dark due to the unavailability of resources or appropriate tools will be streamlined into usable data with the use of these business intelligence tools. By processing and analyzing the old databases as well as that which will be acquired in the future, these business intelligence tools will help detect the often unaware or neglected quality anomalies. This enhancement will not just enable a correction in the business process but also augment the success of many businesses that have lost out on the competition.
Increased impact of IoT:
Further, Internet of Things (IoT), which has thus far proved to have a great impact on big data, will create a greater wave in the transfer of data through sensor technology. Many businesses are benefiting better by cashing in on the benefits of IoT enabled networks as compared to those businesses that are still hooked to outdated forms. An apparent benefactor of IoT would be retail businesses as they would be able to analyze their customer behaviors and other trends in real time through the data generated from their equipped smart stores. A simple sensor on a rack can help with real-time inventory management.
The greater shift from remote servers to cloud storage:
Another component that business will have to adapt to without fail for the success of the integration of these business intelligence tools would be cloud storage. These business intelligence components would cease to exist if businesses fail to utilize either or both cloud storage and cloud computing platforms to effectively collect, analyze or process any data. Accessibility to real-time data without the constraint of limited storage, like that of remote servers, is crucial not just for in-house data but also for the overall smooth management of every component of business intelligence tools.
Checking and updating security protocol:
Most importantly, or rather more obviously, another component that businesses cannot afford to lose out on is security protocol. With the extensive use of cloud technology, security risks are higher, and therefore require the constant upgradation of cutting-edge security measures to fight against cloud security threats. A simple breach could cause loss of sensitive data and repeated damaging attacks that could devastate the business. Business intelligence tools like AI have dedicated protective platforms that could avert a crisis even before occurrence that could otherwise be impossible for a human workforce to even control after a hack.
The need for big data and its smooth integration has been happening at a rapid pace in the past few years, and the current need of the hour is maximum utilization of these resources for a successful and disaster-free future for businesses. With a lot of businesses changing the current from the traditional to technological cores, the constant revision of algorithms is required to gain the edge over competitors. This year is all prepped for data-driven – innovation, discovery, and inventions.
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