The user timeline is an exploration in presenting database interactions as a sequential series of events, aiming to solve the user need of context when interacting or evaluating a user.
The initial concept attempted to use a two-sided timeline approach, and focused on actions the user had taken. It also highlighted various tags that users already apply to contacts.
We found that this lacked several key features important to the average user. It didn’t include topline info for such critical pieces of information such as age or gender, and users found the timeline somewhat visually confusing.
Also the idea was raised that we could use the tags to unify how our users marked individuals, and make it easier for new users on a campaign to understand what a person’s role was.
In the second version, we addressed some of these critical issues, and also found some ways to address a few of our users’ other needs. We wanted to highlight how contacts could be best reached, and highlight that information in a few key locations
We added these as topline summaries, and broke the timeline out into a single-column layout to help users more clearly understand the time relationship between items.
A few other key improvements were the ability to filter timeline events, to suit their needs. After seeing what real data looked like in our original design, we also realized that some events were far too common to include on the timeline. We took those items out of the timeline unless they resulted in a meaningful event, and put them into monthly roll-ups instead.
In our third iteration, we made more subtle changes. Talking to experienced users helped us understand which pieces of information were most valuable, and which were unnecessary. Some filter options didn’t make sense in a timeline context, and there was more noise in the visual layout than needed.
This final design was something we were happy with, and from here we moved on to prototyping.