For years, RightScale had implemented several pages in its cloud management system which allowed users access to key Amazon Web Services cloud services, including the Simple Queue Service (SQS), Simple Storage Service (S3), Elastic Load Balancer (ELB), and Relational Database Service (RDS). These interfaces were built using basic Ruby on Rails HTML interactions. As a result, they were slow, limited in functionality, and aesthetically unappealing.
To begin the project, I performed the following:
- Interview key internal stakeholders.
- Competitive review of similar UIs and services (e.g. 1st and 3rd party S3 browsers).
- Review of previous customer feedback in our wiki and feedback site.
- Interview additional customers to better understand their needs.
With a solid understanding of our customer needs and technical capabilities. I began the design phase. I started with the SQS application, as it was the simplest to implement. The S3, ELB, and RDS applications followed, with portions of the design and development done in parallel.
Elements of the design process included:
- Interactive wireframes built with the Axure RP tool.
- High fidelity comps designed through close collaboration with our UX developer.
- Usability tests of both the interactive wireframes, design comps, and eventually working beta versions of the software.
- Rapid iteration over the designs was done based on both internal and customer feedback.
The applications were released over a period of around 8 months, starting with the SQS browser. I was responsible for monitoring customer feedback through a custom beta feedback program that I had created and implemented using simple web forms. Based on customer feedback, I worked with developers and QA to rapidly implement both bug fixes and enhancements.
As part of the project, I wrote an article for the company blog outlining both the new applications, and the new UI framework that formed a basis for our future UI development.