"Answers First"

Our app needed major additions, but how could we keep or even improve our usability as we added new features?

What was the problem?

More than anything, what our users want is not an additional metric, or new type of graph. What they want are real answers to business questions. Now, in order to answer those questions, we had work to do. We needed a broader array of analysis tools in the application, and we needed new ways to draw connections between our analysis outputs and our users' business goals.

How did we approach this design?

The solution I proposed is called "Answers First". We would lean into our technology's strength, producing meaningful results within minutes from thousands or tens-of-thousands or even hundres of thousands of documents. We would build a new project view called Highlights that would present high-level insights (This is where you get "Answers First"), then we would guide users to our more in-depth tools to build off of these foundational discoveries.

Slides from an early board presentation explaining the "Answers First" approach

A slide from an early board presentation showing a Highlights page concept

A slide from an early board presentation showing an in-depth analysis view

The Highlights feature as it looked when we released it to our users

What did we learn?

The main elements of the Answers First project (New analysis features and a Highlights page focused on business goals) have so far proved helpful to new users and has reduced our reliance on custom scripts and additional training sessions. Over time, we hope to introduce further customization, over-time views and sharing and export options.