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I am designing a tool where users can select two analyses (previously created) and compare them.

The compare functionality will show a list of 3 or 4 dashboards, each dashboard contains for example bar charts to highlight the difference between the data of the two selected analyses. Those comparison dashboards are shown to the user but not actually saved in the system. User can easily generate a new comparison when needed. During the usability tests, users were not sure if the comparison was saved, some of them expected it to be saved, others not.

The comparison dashboards are only for visualization, user cannot change anything. Is there a way to make the user aware that those dashboards are gone once you navigate away? I would like to avoid showing warnings in a dialog when they try to leave. Maybe there is no need to say that? Any UI pattern regarding this topic?

This is a mockup of the comparison page: enter image description here

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I am not sure there is a pattern regarding this particular problem, but I am pretty sure there are thing you can do to improve your UX. For example:

  • Make it clear that you are comparing two or more different analyses. I am not seeing that very well communicated in the mockup. Try adding some headings on top of each bar chart/ section/ etc. I see you have some caption below each graph, but this is something that most users will miss at first. For example when you are comparing two products the things that you have on top are the picture and the heading - Product 1 vs. Product 2. Right now it looks like I am not comparing something I am just looking at one dashboard.If you indicate that what I see on the left is Some Analysis 1 and on the right is Some Analysis 2 it will be more clear for the users and they won't expect so much this to be saved. Also you can put some margin between the graphs so it is clear that they are separate things.

  • Communicate better that this is a comparison mode or something. The blue header is suppose to do that, but I think you should make it more clear also you can include an action button that will also hint the users that this won't be saved. For example:

H1: Compare mode

P: Compare data from two or more analyses...

Button: Add analysis

I think this will give users more clarity that this is just a page where you can add two or more analyses and compare them similar to comparing two or more products.

  • Showing warnings when they try to leave is a good thing. Not only for communicating that this compare page won't be saved but also to protect the user from loosing this page if they click accidentally on something else, which is pretty common thing. As a user I will be very frustrated if I accidentally click back button or something else and loose my compare dashboard. So you can think about adding a warning as well.

Hope some of this helps.

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