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dbuchter
Advocate I
Advocate I

UI / UX Design process for PowerBI

Because I don't come across many UX/UI designers working in Power BI, I thought I'd share my process for anyone wondering how to approach it.

 

I work for a pretty large enterprise with UX and design teams scattered throughout the organization, but I am the entire UX team for sales, finance and analytics. Among my other responsibilities, I commonly create wireframes and prototypes before working with developers on building PBI Reports (we call Power BI reports "dashboards" - we do not use the actual dashboard function in PBI). I have a work process that provides that initial prototype for stakeholders to review before we actually gather data sources and build dashboards. This workflow isn't really for one-off reports, but more for enterprise-wide dashboards that many people will use (internally) for sales reporting or client revenue, etc. A lot of these dashboards are emberrded directly into salesforce pages.

 

Back to my design process - I will typically meet with stakeholders about business requests and sort of sketch out what the request is. I then refine that sketch into a wireframe (I use Axure RP) or, more likely, a high-fidelity prototype of what I think the dashboard should look like. We then go through a few rounds of discussions with stakeholders and developers to refine the prototype until we all agree it meets everyone's needs. The advantage of the high-fidelity prototype is that it looks real, so stakeholders really understand it (wireframes and their low-fidelity can sometimes be confusing to business leaders), also when I hand it over to the developers, they know exactly how to make the PBI dashboard. I also provide specs that include colors of all the elements, font sizes, pixel spacing, etc. It's a pretty good process. As I mentioned earlier, I use a prototyping tool called Axure RP, but there are many others. One key feature (of pretty much any of these tools) is the ability to design and build a library of UI elements in the prototyping tool that mimic the power BI elements. This makes it much quicker to create new dashboard designs.

 

For the designers out there wondering about the design capabilites of Power BI, I can say from my two years of experience that it is limited! I've been working via trial-by-error and constantly run into design and interaction roadblocks. Some have gotten better over time as the PBI dev team makes improvements, but make no mistake, if you are expecting the same creative control as your prototyping or design tools, you will be dissapointed. You will also find little documentation on design-related solutionsand you may come away feeling that the app is half-baked, which it is, from a designer or even a CSS developer POV.

 

I hope some other designers can share their own thoughts and processes - would be great to connect.

6 REPLIES 6
regutrustrace
New Member

Thanks for bringing this up. i wondered how power bi gives importance to design elements 

 

Jocie
New Member

Thank you for sharing your experiences.  There is very little information /features available in Power Bi UX related stuff and this information is very helpful.

 

Cheers

parry2k
Super User
Super User

@dbuchter good advice and thanks for sharing. When I work with my clients, I create a working copy with a sample dataset to show them how they are going to interact, drill up/down, drill through, cross filter/highlight, and then based on the feedback I further tweak the design. I'm not a designer by profession but working with businesses for more than 20 years, with my experience I translate their requirement to prototype and then take it from there. 

 

Since  I live and breath Power BI and using it since it was made available, I'm aware of its limitation and I do highlight during my discussion with the client in case they have different expectations. I found it is very helpful when I make the prototype using sample data that is based on actual data from the client. They can easily see the value when they see their sample data in action and communication becomes easier for further improvement.

 

Thanks for sharing the tools you use, maybe it will become handy sometime in the future. Cheers!!






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You make an excellent point, and an important note that I left out - the design or UI only matters to a certain extent (in the stakeholders minds) until they actually see the real data visualized to determine if the dashboard is solving their problem, or answering their question about the data. Once my prototype design is handed over to the developers, we still can go through a few rounds with the stakholders once they see the actual data in the Power BI dashboard. I will jump into Power BI and make UI tweaks as necessary.

 

My case is unique in the sense that we have a separate resource for UI/UX (me) - not every team handling reporting does. My responsibility is to elevate the user experience among all of the tools our group interacts with, Power BI being just one part of that mix. Therefore, I'm not that interested in being an expert at data modeling and prefer to solution outside of Power BI for UI design. If Power BI were my primary resposibility, I would most certainly design and develop exclusively in the tool for exactly the reason you mention - to be working with the actual data from the get-go.

I'm looking for a UI/UX design guide. It doesn't have to be built specifically for PBI. We are trying align all of our Microsoft reporting tools around a set of design standards to create uniformity. Does anyone know a good resource for this type of guide. 

Intereting question. So you are looking for a more general type of guide or documented best-practices. I don't have any great examples, and I have looked. There are certainly dicsussions and articles in the UX/UI spere that talk about data visualization design, but I haven't seen anything in particular that inspired me personally. Take a look at Nielsen/Norman Group - a big UX community with lots of articles and best practice recommendations on digital platforms in general - search data visualizations, you might find something useful there.

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