Excellent post over at Bokardo called Five Principles to Design By. In this post Joshua Porter identifies Five Principles that social web designers should keep in mind and these are easily extended to any school district or architecture designer that is thinking about data display.
First, technology serves humans. If the technology fails or the user cannot figure out how to get value from it, then the design is the problem. A simple concept that seems to be overlooked when considering how to display data to teachers. Second, design is not art. Art is to be enjoyed and design facilitates use. Third, designers do not create experiences, they create artifacts to experience. This seems to be akin to Kathy Sierra’s argument that serving our customers means that in the end it is about them kicking ass. Fourth, great design is invisible because it solves a problem and works well. We take it for granted. Fifth, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Distill the design to the absolute needs to solve the problem at hand, that is all.
This all applies directly to design of data systems for school districts to use. If the ultimate goal is for teachers to use the data system to analyze data and track student progress, then the design of the system must be teacher-friendly, focused on their experience, and simple enough that the user does not have to read the freakin’ manual.