Comparing Time Periods

Learn from history or be doomed to repeat it.

What was the problem?

In our flagship product, users can apply filters to look at narrow ranges of time, such as the past week, to understand what's going on lately. User interviews and feedback led us to add the ability to compare to a previous time range directly in Drivers UI.

How did we approach this design?

There were a lot of variables to consider with this feature, and to cover all of our bases required sharing the design early and incorporating a number of rounds of feedback. This feature was largely shaped on the whiteboard, in meetings with stakeholders from product management and engineering and with regular users of the product.

A project's data could have more than one date field and a user would have to narrow their view down to a particular date range in order to do a comparison. In order to build this feature in a way that users could discover, learn and use themselves, we need to introduce new elements that would send clear signals to the user about what date ranges they were seeing.

A scatterplot visualization from the Drivers tool, showing the current date range with out a comparison view

A scatterplot visualization from the Drivers tool, showing the current date range being compared to the previous period

Full-page mockup of the Drivers tool, showing views without a comparison, with a comparison, and while curating the concepts to be visualized in the scatterplot

How did we approach this design?

This addition to the Drivers feature is brand new and we're only just getting initial feedback. We will look to learn a lot from releasing this initial version to our users. For example: What sorts of time periods do our users wish to compare? Are the basic comparison options we've given them enough for their purposes? How often do people want to compare the same terms from one period to the next, versus comparing which different terms were more uniquely important from period to period?