Building User Intuitive Stories in SAP Analytics Cloud (Tips & Tricks)
One of the great selling features for SAP Analytics Cloud is a stunning visual UX that it can provide users in both Planning and Analytics scenarios alike. In my experience with implementing SAP Analytics Cloud for the past 3 years is that most customers gravitate to the fresh and stunning look of the UI. That being said, far too often, however, I see developers and customers being told that the only way that SAP Analytics Cloud can handle a more intuitive and tailored UX for end user personas is with the usage of Analytics Designer.
To be clear, Analytics Designer is a fantastic extension of SAP Analytics Cloud and really enables companies to completely customize and create tailor-made solutions for their end users. That being said, it also necessitates creating the entire experience (from a developer perspective) to be done within an application with the usage of scripting and extensions. Make no mistake Analytics Designer is a fantastic tool in SAP Analytics Cloud’s arsenal.
In this blog post I would like to focus on tips and tricks that can be leveraged with out of the box and native features within standard Stories that allow someone to create a visually stunning and user intuitive UX.
I’ve attached a few screens and would like to discuss the merits of how they aid the overall UX:
The above screen is a ‘Landing Page’ (sometimes also known as a Launch Page). This can be a user’s first point of entry when accessing their Planning or Analytics process within any related cycle. If this is the first tab within a Story even a simple hyperlink (all Stories have a standard hyperlink) placed on internal SharePoint or SharePoint-type site/Portal can ensure a user does not even have to navigate through their respective SAP Analytics Cloud tenant to access their Story. They can click the link and have a browser window automatically open to this Story’s Landing Page.
(you can even customize the link for a more user-friendly link)
A consistent theme, and colour palette across Story tabs as illustrated above go a long way in guiding a user to intuitively use a Story.
Instead of having a user navigate via the Story tabs (or drop-down menu) we can make these subsequent tabs hidden and attach tiles (which can be any image/shape created directly within or outside of SAP Analytics Cloud) and then hyperlink these shapes to the tab destination itself. Clicking these tiles now enables them to navigate to the appropriate tab of the Story directly:
We also have the ability to add features such as Dynamic Text for the ‘username’ to appear in addition to informing them which Cost Center and Version (or any other dimension as needed) that they’ve selected:
We also have the ability to incorporate nice-to-have features such as Webpages and Clocks directly:
In the case of the Web Page, I’ve chosen to include a Google Slide which could allow the user to see within the window, critical information related to the process that they may be involved in:
The explicit usage of Clocks/Date and Username in the Landing Page and subsequent Story tabs allows a user to be aware of these variables should they choose to publish/export these Story tabs as PDFs later.
Another area that may aid a user as a ‘one-stop-shop’ would be the footer section of the page to contain other external hyperlinks which they may need access to. In the case of Planning opening up a support incident or reading more detailed documentation may allow a user to navigate and complete their process more expeditiously:
One other area that can certainly aid a user in their process is where they currently sit in their process and what activities they have left to complete. SAP Analytics Cloud has a powerful Calendar tool that can do this in a more established, tightly-controlled manner. However, what if a user would like to have help navigating when all of these steps sit within one Story itself? A breadcrumb menu approach can certainly aid this:
In this example I’ve used the top section of a Story tab and re-purposed it for our breadcrumb menu. Each of these serves as a hyperlink to the specific tabs in the Story itself. They’re also tied in a step-wise process manner (start from the left and end on the right) and also allow a user to return the Landing Page at any time by selecting the ‘home’ icon. Again, all of these are images that can be uploaded into image library for the SAP Analytics Cloud Story directly (as demonstrated earlier). Finally, we’ve also allowed the user to be aware of where they stand in the process by both providing a title of the Story tab in the left-hand corner and highlighting (enclosing their related tile) via a red border.
Finally, once a user becomes comfortable with their user selections within the Story, they can set bookmarks and ensure that anytime they access the Story it automatically retains their user selections. This is yet another powerful feature that allows users to pick up where they left off in repetitive cycles without having to re-select their variables:
This concludes our How-To, I hope you have found this blog post useful as I feel it’s incumbent on everyone to understand some of the foundational pieces of SAP Analytics Cloud when it comes to UX before jumping straight into more advanced capabilities of Analytics Designer.
As we progress into the new year I will continue writing on a host of topics as it pertains to SAP Analytics Cloud. My goal will be to continue to provide my experiences with creating various solutions to business problems and customer requirements. The underlying theme for these solutions will be focusing on best practices and where creativity is necessitated still having an eye on sustainability.
Thank-you and stay tuned for subsequent blog posts.