AI-Driven Analytics for Small Business Owners
Most large companies have teams of analysts who track KPIs and provide data-driven business advice, giving them a huge advantage over small companies that can’t afford the same approach.
Invii Analytics is an emerging SaaS startup that wants to close the gap by making analytics more accessible to small business owners.
Small eCommerce business owners want to use data analytics to drive business decisions, but most analytics tools are incredibly complex.
Invii’s analytics dashboards need to be accessible and easy to understand, while also providing actionable information that small business owners can use.
We identified industry-standard KPIs, organized them with an intuitive Information Architecture, and presented them with modern data visualization and a clean, minimalist UI to maximize value to the user.
We were connected with Invii for a four week work engagement through Springboard. Invii was early in the product design process, and they weren’t sure what to ask from our team. But they did know what they wanted from their product, so we decided to start there:
The target audience for their MVP was small eCommerce business owners, because their KPIs are fairly standardized.
They didn’t want infinite customizability- they were aiming for a streamlined experience.
Their product plan had five branches:
Inventory and material management
Risk-tracking and analytics
Goal-keeping and learning center
A desktop interface was the priority, but they planned to have a mobile app as well.
Scope and Sequence
My team’s first task was to create a scope and sequence for our work with Invii.
We decided to focus on the templated dashboards for the MVP. We wanted to ensure that their dashboards would be accessible to small business owners who may not have a background in data analytics. We needed to make sure the dashboards weren’t just graphs and numbers, but meaningful information that small business owners could easily understand and use to make decisions.
Our research focused on two things:
1) competitors in the AI analytics space
2) how dashboards are used to display complex information
We synthesized our research findings and developed an Information Architecture to help users navigate the product and access the information they need.
We sketched and developed wireframes for the primary dashboard and other key screens.
We created high-fidelity mockups of the primary dashboard and other key screens using brand guidelines provided by the client.
We started with a competitive analysis. Since we had decided to focus on the dashboard screens, we wanted to explore two things:
How dashboards display complex information
How other business analytics products make information accessible to new users
Invii’s target audience for the MVP was small business owners in the eCommerce space with $500,000 to $5 million annual revenue.
I researched demographic statistics and business owner profiles, then created two user personas to help guide decision making throughout the design process.
These profiles helped the client and the design team to understand the wide range of needs and perspectives even within this seemingly narrow audience.
$500,000 annual revenue
$5,000,000 annual revenue
Our next step was to figure out which KPIs were most important for MVP’s templated dashboards. Although we didn’t have access to users, we did have access to a subject matter expert: one of Invii's founders is a business analyst with experience using KPIs to drive business decisions.
We started with a written interview, then organized and prioritized the KPIs he provided to create an Information Architecture for the five primary dashboards.
Now that we knew what information needed to be shown on each dashboard, we needed to figure out how to display it. I researched each KPI to learn:
The data used to generate them
The relationships between them
How they are typically displayed
Many of the KPIs could be displayed as numbers- dollar amounts, percentages, or time stamps. For others, it made more sense to display charts and graphs.
We started with the frame, using a sidebar for navigation.
We built the dashboards on a 5x6 grid with variable modules to create consistency across screens.
Invii wanted to find ways to onboard and educate users, since their intended audience includes people without a data analytics background. When creating the wireframes, I looked for opportunities to help users understand where these numbers were coming from.
On the Marketing dashboard, two important KPIs were the Clickthrough Rate and Cost Per Acquistion. Both of these statistics were ratios of other data (for example, the Clickthrough Rate is simply the ratio of Total Clicks to Impressions), so I displayed each of these data points and showed their relationship to help users understand the story behind the numbers.
As we began working on the User Interface, we ran into a color problem. Invii’s logo was initially red, but when we used that color in the product design, it was hard to avoid the negative connotations of red in financial data displays.
We advised them to change the logo and provided several options to choose from. They agreed and chose this blue gradient, which we used to build a color scheme moving forward.
The result of our work is a cohesive, consistent UI that gives eCommerce business owners immediate access to their most crucial KPIs.
We provided Invii with high fidelity screens to use as they continue to seek funding and develop the product, including mobile and dark mode displays that provide a consistent brand identity across multiple platforms and modes.
Takeaways and Next Steps
Learning is part of the process.
At the beginning of this engagement, I barely knew what KPI stood for, let alone how they are used. I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of eCommerce KPIs and thinking critically about how to display what I learned to make it easily accessible to people who may not have time to do the research.