Thursday, December 31, 2015

Launching a data driven recommendations product is a bit like launching a rocket

At Castlight Health we recently launched our first data-driven recommendations product called Castlight Action. We launched it for our own employees first before launching it for customers. It has four modules. The first one is the identification and prediction engine that segments people, the second is the application for the benefits leaders to turn on campaigns, the third is the delivery of email and web-based recommendation content. The fourth is the module that tracks the engagement of members with recommendations.

These modules start to execute one after the other. Every module depends on the successful execution of the previous module. Every module has a product manager in-charge of it. I was watching the leader of every module take a deep breath and verify things when their modules go live. Nerve wracking, in a good way.

While we are operating in new territory, my plan is to make the process of desining and developing data driven products a lot more predictable than it is today. I hope to learn from others who have done it and learn by doing when I can. 

Beautiful Evidence

I am in the middle of designing a data driven product for the benefits industry. As part of my prep, I went through the book Beautiful Evidence by Edward Tuft to understand the purpose behind every kind of data visualization. As you probably already know, it is a wonderful book. If you are someone who cares about the intersection of data and design, the book is worthy of keeping your library for a long time.

The most important lesson for me from the book is this. Don't let any digital tool dictate your thinking. Break the rules and disrupt the rules of the tool.

I was also fascinated to learn about the rich possibilities of sparklines
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