Location intelligence, the younger sister of business intelligence, is going to change the way we look at and understand the world. With democratisation of data, and big data eventually being accessible not only to the big fish in the pond, knowing the where component will very soon become absolutely inseparable from wide range of human activities. That's why I joined the talented team at CleverMaps in 2015 as a product designer to help push this emerging field forward.

CleverMaps is a cloud-based platform that visualizes business data using an interactive map. It enables users to examine the spatial context of their data and explore patterns that are otherwise invisible in charts and tables. The platform aims to answer comprehensive business questions with an ease of reading a map.

    The challenge

The original CleverMaps suffered from huge information overload, heavy inconsistency and chaotic non-universality. It tried to provide advanced spatial analysis while omitting some extremely basic functionality. Only very few people outside the team could navigate the application or dig some deeper meaning from it. There was a giant gap between the information and the end user. To set CleverMaps on the course to a professional digital product was no simple task to do.

    The process

I've set several guiding rules, that became the foundation of the new product:

The map is the core visualisation. Charts, ranks, numbers, statuses—that's nothing new, that's business intelligence. Location intelligence has to be all about the where component. The map had to become the actual cornerstone of the application with all the other information elements supplementary to it.

Drive the product as far away from the GIS status quo as possible. Most geographical information systems shine with robust functionality but one has to be a GIS expert to properly use it. The bar for previous knowledge requirements had to be pushed as low as mentally possible.

Present only the relevant information. Well, duh. But it is not that easy when you are dealing with big data of different business verticals for many types of end users. The information hierarchy and flow had to be completely redefined and the entire UI stripped to the bones.

Make the platform universal.
The product had to completely bury the ad hoc approach to solutions it was providing. It had to satisfy wide range of uses for location intelligence, not just some specific needs of few customers. It also had to introduce a lot of supporting peripherals to really become a fully mature product, not just a bunch of cool features stitched together.

    The result

I pushed the product through complete structural and visual redesign. Clarity and intelligibility of the application were vastly improved up to a point where lack of specific features became the main concern of users—not confusing flow anymore. Essential tools for visualising the data were incorporated as well as other more complex analytical tools. The product website was also redesigned ground up and has been unified with the application following the same goals and visual language. Brand new demo was launched, which serves as basis for CleverMaps' expansion to international markets and better investments opportunities.

Applying universal principles and guidelines also led to shakeout of the complex metadata background, allowing for better usability and future flexibility of the platform. Unification of nomenclature and simplification of flow opened the door to introducing solid user onboarding and knowledge base (both of which were completely missing before). Targeted communication and support also became inseparable parts of the platform...

See the full Case Study here.