Training on Analysis Workspace (Part 2)
In last week’s post, I shared some of the areas of Analysis Workspace that confused the students of classes I provided on the product. Most of those issues were things that had to do with some larger implications of the product (i.e. having an eVar and an sProp dimension for the same thing). Many of the things I mentioned in the last post would require Adobe to make some key product changes to address, but the goal of that post was really to help you navigate some potentially tricky items if you are doing training.
In this post, I’d like to focus more on the actual user experience of Workspace itself. These are things that, with my limited experience in product design, seem like items that Adobe could address more easily. Again, I will add the caveat that I am the furthest thing there is from a designer and I don’t purport to know of better ways to create user interfaces. But, what I do know is which things in the UX of Workspace my students could not find or figure out, even after having been shown multiple times. If users can’t find features or easily figure out how to use them, that is a problem, and Workspace is notorious for “hiding” some of the coolest aspects of the product. My hunch is that these features are hidden to reduce clutter, but as I will demonstrate below, in some cases, this reduction of clutter results in confusion and lack of feature usage. Again, this is not a critique of the people making Workspace, which I have already stated I think is amazing, but rather just me being a messenger of things that I saw cause confusion during my training classes in case you are training co-workers internally.
The Hidden Easter Eggs That Are Workspace
As I mentioned, some of the greatest stuff in Analysis Workspace is hidden or not super obvious to users. In Freeform tables, right-clicking opens up many great options that casual users don’t know about. While the 1980’s gamer in me loves the easter egg aspect of Workspace, especially when I can show someone a new feature they didn’t know about, I can tell you after training new folks on the product, they did not think it was as cool as I did! So the first part of this post will cover all of the “hidden” stuff that frustrated my students.
Hidden chevron in dimensions
A frequent task when using Workspace is going to the left navigation to view your dimensions (eVars and sProps) in order to find the values that have been collected within each dimension. For example, if you want to see a flow from a specific page, you would look for the page dimension in the left navigation to see its values and then drag over the desired page to the flow visualization. However, when doing exercises, most of my students could not figure out how to find the dimension values. Typically, when they looked at the left navigation and saw the dimensions (like Page), they got stuck. I told them that they needed to hover over the dimension and only then they would magically see a chevron which would then allow them to expand and see the resulting values as shown here:
Soon after, they would forget that the chevron was there and I had to keep reminding them of this. Evenutally, I began referring to this as the “hidden chevron” to jog their memory. They didn’t understand why the chevron couldn’t always be there as a reminder that there is more stuff to be found underneath it. I also had many students thinking that they were supposed to double-click on the dimension to expose its underlying values (which did nothing but select and deselect the dimension in the left navigation). So be on the lookout for this potential confusion from your users as well and you may want to just save time and introduce it as the “hidden chevron” from the start…
Hidden items in visualization header
When I began teaching students that they could copy, edit, duplicate and get links to a visualization by right-clicking, they were excited. However, they soon realized that knowing exactly where to right-click in the header of the visualization was hit or miss.
Eventually, they got it, but they often asked me why there wasn’t a gear icon for the visualization since almost every other thing in Workspace had a gear icon!
While on the topic of the visualization header, let’s discuss the “copy to clipboard” option. Many of my students assumed that this would be an easy way for them to copy the visualization and paste it into a PowerPoint slide to show others in a meeting. Unfortunately, here is what happens when you copy and paste using the Copy to Clipboard option:
It might be handy to have a copy visualization image option here in addition to copying the actual data.
Additionally, some super handy things in the header of the chart visualization include the ability to “lock” the chart to table data and/or to show/hide table data. Unfortunately, both of these options are found in a [very] tiny little dot at the top-left of the visualization as shown here:
While they would eventually learn this, I can’t tell you how many times I was asked: “where is the place that I lock data and hide the table?” Again, I am not sure why these options can’t be part of the gear icon that already exists for charts, but I just mention that you may have to tell your students a few times about the stuff hidden in the chart dots.
Hidden items in Freeform table columns
Freeform tables are often the most popular Workspace visualization. Like Excel spreadsheets, they allow you to see data in a tabular format. In Workspace Freeform tables, there is a way to customize the columns by hovering over the column header and clicking the gear icon. This was another “hidden” feature that users saw me demonstrate, but later could not find. They also could not figure out how to close the window that opened when they clicked the gear icon since there is no “X” there, so I had to tell them that they just had to click away from the box somewhere else. You can see both the hidden gear icon and the lack of a way to close the window here:
Similarly, changing the sort column in Freeform tables requires the user to know to hover their mouse in the exact right place (next to column total metric). Most folks thought that clicking the column heading would sort (as in the old “Reports” UI), but instead, they had to learn to hover in the correct spot to sort…
For both of these items (gear and sort), I assume that the icons are hidden to make the table look cleaner. However, I wonder if there might be a way to have an “edit” mode when building a project that displays all of the icons like there was an edit mode for dashboards in the older interface. Perhaps give users the option of which view they prefer and then people can have the best of both worlds?
Hidden drop zones
One of the coolest parts of Analysis Workspace is that you can drag and drop components all kinds of places and tweak your data. For example, you can drag segments or dimension values into Freeform table columns and in other visualizations. Unfortunately, there are some places that you can drop items that are so well hidden that many users don’t discover them or remember after they have been trained.
One example of this is the Fallout visualization. In this visualization, you can drag segment or dimension values to the top of the report and see the same fallout segmented as shown here:
The only problem is that there is nothing telling you that you can drop things there. I am not sure why there aren’t blank segment/dimension drop zone boxes there like there are for other visualizations (i.e. Flow, Cohort, etc.).
Similarly, in the Flow visualization, users need to know that they can drop a dimension value on top of another to replace it, but there isn’t any type of visual cue that this is possible. Also, if a user wants to add a second dimension to the Flow report, they have to know that there is another hidden drop zone to the right of the right-most column. You can see both of these here:
Don’t get me wrong, these are super-cool features, but I dare you to stand in front of a class of novice users and get them to find these and remember where they are two weeks later!
Other UX Items
Renaming Fallout Steps
When you create a fallout report, there are some cases in which the names of each fallout step can be very long. This can be due to long page names or having multiple items in each step. To remedy this, Workspace provides a way to rename each Fallout step. The weird thing here is that you only seem to be able to edit the Fallout steps if you mouse coming in the downward direction. Double-Clicking on the name, as my students tried to do, didn’t work. Here is a video of me trying to double-click and coming at the name from bottom and top:
Maybe I am just bad with my mouse, but I find it very difficult to get to the exact right spot to edit step names and my students did as well. My hunch is that there has to be a better way to let people rename steps…
I normally work on a huge monitor (three in fact!) when I am using Workspace. But when I began conducting training classes, I was on my laptop and my students were as well. I was amazed at how much harder some things in Workspace were when you were on a smaller screen. For example, as I began the class and asked my students to create their first project, they could not figure out how to do it. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they couldn’t do something so simple. Then I went over to their laptop and realized that the blue button they needed to click on the screen showing the templates was below the fold and they were not seeing it. They had to know to scroll down to see CREATE button they needed to click. You can see this here:
I had never seen that on my large monitor, but suddenly got it and was prepared for that in subsequent classes. I wonder if there should be a blue button at the top of the screen as well?
Another example of this was when I taught students how to use functions in the Calculated Metric builder. Students kept telling me that they didn’t have any of the functions and eventually I realized that they are so low in the left navigation on a laptop, that students weren’t seeing that they were in the left navigation as shown here:
There were more cases like this that popped up during the training and it made me wonder if those designing the Workspace interface were spending as much time using the tool on laptops as they were on large monitors?
The last item I want to discuss is the concept of project default options. When you create a lot of Workspace projects, you tend to come up with your own little preferences on how you’d like to set them up. For me, I always begin a project by using Project – Info & Settings to make the project “compact” and whenever I add pathing-related visualizations (i.e. Flow Fallout), I tend to use Visit instead of Visitor. It would be great if I could tell Workspace that when I create a new project, I want these to be the default instead of having to update these each time. I am sure there are other items I’d like to make the default (i.e. color scheme) as well…
Once again, I’d like to stress that I love Analysis Workspace and am not a designer. My intention for sharing this information is to alert those who may be doing training of things that they might want to know about before they get the same types of questions I did. At some point, students/users have to just learn where things are and memorize it, but the above items might represent opportunities for Adobe to help everyone to more easily find and use the amazing features in the Workspace product.