Don’t let the acronym confuse you: Search as a Dashboard is prevalent among the internet’s most heavily used web applications (think Amazon, Google, and Facebook). If these Fortune 50 companies use it with such success, SaaD must be anything but.
What is SaaD?
Search as a Dashboard refers to a type of user experience that begins with presenting a user with several options based on what they are most likely to want to see. For example, logging into your Amazon.com account will (probably) first show you a list of items that you have previously viewed but not purchased. Logging into a Google Drive account will give you options to immediately go to your most recently accessed files. Entering Facebook probably means that you’ll be confronted with a prompt to review (read: repost) a previous post from the same day several years ago.
What do all of these experiences have in common? They are most likely to get an interaction from a user based on (1) user data and (2) prioritization in the application design.
Let’s Review: What’s a Rank Order List?
For a full explanation of Rank Order Lists and why they’re important, check out our ROL article from 2019. For a summary, stay right here:
Rank Order List (ROL) interfaces are user interfaces that present a list of objects that are ranked according to some criteria. A classic example is the results from a Google search; They’re ranked based on the relevance of the keywords that you entered into the search engine. Another example would be on a website’s FAQ page. A good interface includes some commonly searched questions, such as “how to cancel my subscription” or “change my shipping address” right at the top of a list of queries.
With these examples, the ROL interface benefits users by getting them the end results they are looking for with as little interaction as possible (minimal effort for the user means higher engagement overall). Understanding the importance of ROL opens the door to a highly-engageable Search as a Dashboard application.
Why is SaaD Important in Custom Software Development?
To be direct: No one wants to spend time creating custom software applications that don’t get used. The main point of creating a SaaD application is to increase user engagement by providing the options that they are most likely to be interested in right at the top of the page / list / menu.
There are very few applications that cannot benefit from utilizing a Search as a Dashboard interface. In fact, the only circumstance that we would recommend not using SaaD would be for applications that are so small that there would be no need to have multiple options for a user to select. And, realistically, most businesses expect their needs to grow beyond a single function. Luckily SaaD is an easy thing to “split” into more options as a business grows, which is why we choose to implement it so frequently.
How Can SaaD be Leveraged for Business Leaders?
There is another side of the SaaD coin that isn’t necessarily focused on the advantages for the end user: Utilizing SaaD correctly can also present users with information that they may not have been looking for, but will ultimately help increase their productivity and minimize interaction with the application.
A salesperson might see a card when they open their sales tracking software that says “You’ve completed 89% of your goal for this month with 24 days left”. An administrator might, upon opening their application, read a prompt to “Order more of Product XYZ for June. Last June saw sales for XYZ that were 43% higher than average”, followed by a link to order more products from a vendor. A manager might read a prompt to “Submit employee reviews by December 1st.” The possibilities are endless.
All of these circumstances are not necessarily tasks that the user would be searching for on their own, but they are all extremely advantageous to business leaders as they automate the motivation process for employees to get in, do the task, get out, and move on with their day. The result is increased productivity and decreased roadblocks to the team’s workflow.
Don’t Worry, Be SaaD
Search As A Dashboard is not going away, and Worthwhile consistently uses this type of interface for any client that we build a microservice architecture for. It is scalable, easily navigated by users, and requires a Design Thinking approach in order to be successful.
Business leaders should understand the value of creating a SaaD interface for their web application as they enter the design phase of software development. It has the potential to dramatically increase engagement and skyrocket employee productivity, as long as it’s built with all end-users in mind.