When introducing a new product or an unprecedented innovation, and especially when encouraging others to embrace that innovation with you, an old adage rings true: "Seeing is believing."
The Vistra application has a rich, Flex user interface that encourages data exploration.
These words of wisdom seemed particularly appropriate for Vistra, a pharmaceutical data services start-up for whom we designed a proof-of-concept SaaS application prototype.
With years of experience consulting to early-stage biotech and pharma companies, the Vistra team had identified a unique opportunity: their clients struggled transitioning from highly-specialized research organization to new drug or device product company, and specifically found it difficult to build effective sales &: marketing plans for lack of reliable, timely market data.
Vistra not only knew the data were available, they had figured out a way to make them explorable and actionable, using an aggregation method that would normalize market-defining criteria like indications, doctor and hospital specializations, patient demographics and competitor sales. They just needed a prototype to show the vision and secure funding — which is where Filament Group came in.
Vistra chose Flex, a rich-internet application platform, as their technology. With it's Flash-based front-end, we knew Flex supported highly-interactive data visualization and transitions, vector-based scaling, customizable form elements, and other native capabilities that could deliver a truly unique data exploration experience. We identified the 3-4 key capabilities the tool could deliver that would resonate most with potential customers and investors, reviewed the actual data that supported those business cases, and did fast, iterative product concepting prototypes to clarify concrete system capabilities that addressed specific user objectives.
The breadth and depth of the data allowed for many, many levels of slicing and dicing — with multi-level data hierarchies, providing clear navigation access and delivering accurate and detailed feedback would be crucial. This information density moved us to create a UI system with compact dashboard charts that expanded in-place to full-screen exploration tools; navigation panes that easily collapsed to let the data take a more prominent place on the screen and interactive data filters that doubled as chart legends; and extensive data exporting and saving tools tucked into compact toolboxes.
As Vistra's product took shape and polish, the organization did as well. We created a logo, extended color palette, identity system and presentation document templates, and detailed visual designs for both the product and companion marketing website.
Unfortunately, the Vistra vision did not make it beyond the prototype phase. But the process of developing the initial designs helped refine and clarify the product vision, and our participation helped us explore and refine a number of interface and interaction best practices that have become cornerstones of our rich internet application design approach.