The widget-based dashboard that made up one of my first design projects was fairly well accepted by our most technical customers, but it had a major weakness: newer or less-technical users were often intimidated by the amount of effort required to build their own widgets, and the built-in widgets provided by RightScale were insufficient for their needs. As a result, we began a project to create a simplified dashboard which provided users with an overview of their account activity. This dashboard would be in addition to the dashboard widgets provided for more technical users.
The Account Overview
By the time this project was undertaken, I was firmly in the role of UX Manager. During this time, however, our junior UX designer was embedded with another team on a long-term project. I therefore paired with our UI designer to tackle the new account overview.
To begin the project, I performed the following:
- Interview key internal stakeholders.
- Competitive review of similar UIs and services (New Relic, several dashboard startups).
- Review of customer feedback in our feedback system.
- Interview customers to better understand their needs.
- Workshop sessions with our CTO and lead architect to understand our capabilities.
During the process of workshopping our capabilities, I created several simple wireframes. I collaborated closely with our UI designer to ensure that a new design fit the wireframes. As the project progressed, I documented the technical details around each widget and its functionality. I also transitioned our ‘new user experience’ content to the Account Overview page with a new slide-down panel.
Elements of the design process included:
- Interactive wireframes built with the Axure RP tool.
- Multiple rounds of review and iteration with internal stakeholders.
- Collaboration with our UI designer.
- Informal usability tests with several customers to quickly gather design feedback.
The account overview encountered a number of delays due to its technical complexity, but this allowed us more time to gather user feedback. Once it was rolled out, our sales team reported that new users were very impressed with the appearance and functionality that we provided.
Shortly after, we did a refresh to the header and sidebar of the Cloud Management product.