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Designing the reports feature: Key lessons we learnt

Aug 2022

4 mins read

Product feature

Designing the reports feature: Key lessons we learnt
We recently launched the Reports feature on Dillali to help you easily obtain financial information about your business. Here are a few things the we (the product design team) learnt along the way:

The first step we always take is analyzing user feedback.

And through this, we discovered that business owners want to know how their businesses are performing. However, the Dillali dashboard, which is the closest we have had to analytics, provides only a general overview.

To solve this problem, we proceeded to design a comprehensive reporting system, to show in the simplest way, key information on their financial performance. Along the way, we encountered some challenges and we would love to share some tips to keep in mind when designing a new product or product feature.

Feedback is critical in product development

Imagine you've finished designing a new feature for a product and are admiring your work. Your face gleaming with pride and you say to yourself, " I dey design joor! Every user should understand this." However, when you run a test with your users, the reverse is the case. You realize that some flows you thought they'd understand turn out to be extremely difficult for them.

One instance is:

During the testing sprint, we found out that the users did not understand some of the terms we used. One of such terms is “Average Time to Receive Payments”.

While it may be easy for an accountant to understand, most of our users are everyday people trying to do business. 

To address this, we introduced tooltips to explain the terms. Not only does this guide them through understanding the reports, it doubles as customer education, because they learn what these terms mean, for next time.

Think of what could have been if we had released the feature without testing.

This is why feedback is critical when developing a product or feature. It enables us to accurately and efficiently meet our users’ expectations, resulting in increased market share and customer loyalty. Furthermore, it aids us in determining which functionalities are important and prioritizing them.

Proper handoff to the development team is beneficial to everyone

The essence of optimizing communication between designers and developers cannot be overflogged. The goal of handoff is to align everyone involved and deliver all of the information required for developers. We learnt the hard way.  

Through the design and testing phase, the development team was not properly included. We also did not have pre-development meetings to properly explain to the development team the intricacies of the feature. I think you can guess what this resulted in.

You guessed right! more back and forth.

Although we found  a way to resolve this -if not you would not be reading this article- we also learnt a valuable lesson, and have tried to implement those lessons in the coming updates. 

Here are some pointers that helped us achieve this:

  • Have a dedicated channel on Slack with all the relevant parties invited.
  • Involve the development team as much as possible right from the planning and research phase. 
  • Make a habit of getting on a call if something is not clear, rather than creating endless email threads.‍
  • Make your prototypes as interactive as possible. Cite animations, flows, interactions where necessary.
  • Include detailed notes and comments about animations, and always be open to explain further where necessary.
  • Always stick to the design system. 
  • Have a dedicated channel for delivering feedback to the development team.
Streamlining ideas might be tough but it’s necessary

We had a lot of ideas on how to implement the reports feature at first.

Can you blame us? It has a lot of potential. 

However, we knew that we needed to break its cycle into stages. Think about WhatsApp, and how many iterations it has undergone to become the app we use a lot. 

So, while you may have a lot of ideas for a new product or feature, keep in mind that development happens in stages. Push the foundational structure out first, then expand and build. 

You can call it the MVP mindset.

Off I go now! Hope you found some of these tips helpful. If you have got other design tips for product development, feel free to chip in below so we can all learn from each other. By spreading the word about what we learn, we are hoping we can all do our part to build better products for people around the world.