You Talked to Us about ViPR SRM and We Listened….

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

In a blog posting earlier this year, we talked about how the user experience team here at EMC is performing a series of baseline usability tests to get a qualitative baseline of how usable our products are, and to identify areas that need improvement. The first product for which we performed these tests was our ViPR SRM product. We did testing in the following main use case areas:

  • Understanding configuration
  • Resource consumption
  • Storage compliance
  • Device Monitoring

Based on the results of those tests, we have already made some changes and included them in the new ViPR SRM 3.5 release.

Some of the fixes we made are what we call “low hanging fruit” (you know, you’re walking through the forest feeling hungry and all of a sudden there is an apple hanging right there in front of you – you just grab it automatically).

Cow eating Low Hanging FruitAn example of one of those “quick” changes is the icons for the “fit to view” and “overview” controls for topology maps were confusing, so we updated them:

Old Icons: oldicons

New icons: newicons

 

Some of the changes were a little more involved, but made to address issues raised during the testing. For example, when observing folks testing the product, in some areas we kept seeing users clicking and clicking, so we asked “what are you trying to click on?” The response was “I am trying to right-click here to see if there is any more functionality.” So we added a right-click (Context) action menu and will be continuing to add actions to those menus as each version of the product comes out.

Example right-click (Context) menu:

Example right-click menu

Added a context menu

Another example was even more involved. During testing in the “Storage Compliance” category, we noticed that our users were having trouble finding out how to define/edit compliance rules versus seeing compliance breach reports. We have moved the compliance definition functions to the Administration interface and kept the breaches reports in the User interface, which we hope will make it easier to find and use these different functions.

Breaches are in the User interface:

Kept the Breaches Report in the User Interface

Kept the Breaches Report in the User Interface

While definition is done in the Administration interface:

Moved the definition to the Administration user interface

Moved the definition to the Administration user interface

And we are now working on making more changes for the next version of the product due late this year. And we’re continuing to do baseline tests on other products, including the SA Suite and ViPR Controller.

We need you to talk, so we can listen! If you are interested in participating in this type of testing, we want to hear from you. Please sign up for testing here: SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE!

 

Many thanks to all the customers who contributed to the design of the SA Suite 9.3 release

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

Today’s post is brought to you by Pete Kashatus, the lead designer for the SA Suite.

Pete Kashatus

After consuming immeasurable quantities of caffeine and working many long hours, the team of EMC engineers, designers, and managers working on the Service Assurance Suite delivered the 9.3 release at the end of June. Besides the effort of EMCers though, Service Assurance Suite customers and users contributed significant time and effort to the release through the Early Adoption Program (EAP), the User Group, in-person and web meetings with product managers, and more. All that customer input significantly shapes the final release.

For our EMC Advanced Software Division (ASD) User Experience Design group, our interactions with customers provide the most important input to our designs. So, we try to engage with customers as often as we can. We are grateful to the many Service Assurance Suite customers and users who provided input to and feedback on our designs for the 9.3 release. Their contributions not only ensured that their particular requirements and use cases were considered, but they also improved the user experience for all customers.

Here are some of the ways customers worked with us to improve the user experience of the release.

Design Partner Program

This release, we began the Service Assurance Suite Design Partner Program. The eight customers who signed up for the design partner program agreed to spend 1-2 hours per month with us reviewing early-stage designs in Web meetings. As a benefit, they got an early preview of the release and had a chance to influence the designs and final product. In one session last Fall, design partners provided feedback on dashboard mockups.

Picture of an Early Concept and then the Release

Early Concept to Release

 

Service Assurance Suite User Group

During the 9.3 release cycle EMC held User Group events in Dallas and Rome. User Group members sat down with the user experience design team at roundtable sessions to give us their feedback on the in-progress 9.3 release and on the key personas we targeted for the release.

Pete, Drusy, and customers at a User Group Event

Pete, Drusy, and customers at a User Group Event

Baseline Usability Testing

At the beginning of the 9.3 release cycle, we defined several usability goals for the release, such as ensuring users can quickly identify root-cause events. We incorporated those goals in the release planning documents. Near the end of the release cycle, we measured our success on the goals by conducting usability testing with nine Service Assurance Suite users. We observed whether they successfully completed key tasks and how long it took them. The test results provide baseline metrics for us to evaluate whether and by how much usability is improving from release to release and also identify usability issues to address in upcoming releases.

EMC World

Each year at EMC World our User Experience Design group partners with other design groups at EMC to host a user-experience-focused booth in the pavilion. At the booth, one of our main activities is recruiting attendees to sit down with us one-on-one to review use cases or design concepts or to interact with a prototype design in a usability test. For Service Assurance Suite, we met with 5 different customers to review topology map, notification view, and mobile design concepts.

Sign at EMC World

You talk, We listen

Web Meetings, Surveys, and More

Throughout the release cycle, we also hold ad-hoc web meetings, administer surveys targeted to address specific design questions, and conduct other usability activities such as card sorts, which provide input to inform the design of the product’s information architecture. For these activities, we drew participants from our design partners and our usability participant database, which is a list of customers who have said they want to participate in usability-related activities. One survey during this release cycle asked respondents which of several color schemes they preferred for the Service Assurance Suite Notifications view.

3 examples of different colors in the notifications view

Which scheme do you prefer?

We want your feedback on our color palette!

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

Hey, users of EMC software like UniSphere, ViPR SRM, ViPR, etc…. we’re looking at trying to improve our standard color palette for charts.

Internally, we’re debating between the 2 options below so we decided to “take it to the street” and let our customers give us some input.

Please, look at the options for color palettes below. SPECIFICALLY look at the line graph on the right. (the other graphs are there so you’ll know what the color palette will loo like for other charts).

Look at both options and tell us — which colors in a line chart are easier to distinguish? You can click on each picture to make it bigger – please do that before replying. Thanks!

Please leave your answer in a reply.

Option 1

Option 1

 

Option 2

Option 2

We’re Looking to Hire a Principal UX Designer!

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

We’ve got a job opening!

We’d like you to join our team:

Join this team!

Join this team!

This opening is in the Advanced Software Division of EMC, reporting to me, Mary Beth Raven. It’s based in Hopkinton, MA or Nashua, NH. If you are an unbelievably wonderful incredible candidate, we might consider a remote worker.  Take a look at the description below and if you’re interested, send your resume to EMCUsabilityTesting@Emc.com (that’s really Mary Beth).

The EMC User Experience Design team is looking for a user advocate – someone who can understand the users of our storage and networking products, and translate their needs into interaction designs and prototypes.

The EMC UX Design team is dedicated to optimizing EMC’s products for the entire product life cycle, from up-front design to usability testing. We provide deep insight and understanding into user behavior, needs, and motivation throughout all phases of the design process from project conceptualization, to implementation and development. We work with customers, product managers, marketing, documentation, and product development teams to research and design usable and productive user experiences.   We also help to create common user experience standards across EMC products and/or within product domains.

The interaction designer/prototyper will work with a team of subject matter experts, interaction designers, visual designers, product managers and developers to create wireframes and prototypes for a variety of software products and solutions, and communicate them effectively in a fast-paced agile environment. You will create interaction designs and high or low–fidelity user interface prototypes to be used for advanced customer feedback, usability testing, and for socializing the UX design to development for implementation.

You must demonstrate an understanding of EMC’s customers, products and user goals and behaviors in a complex enterprise domain, and contribute to interaction concepts that enable seamless, fluid, relevant and engaging experiences for users.

You will work with brand guidelines to ensure designs are not only user-friendly, but remain consistent with the rest of the products and EMC’s brand framework.

You will work with the UXD team to communicate and validate designs by creating wire frames and prototypes, and participating in the creation of usability test scripts and in usability testing.

You must exert significant latitude in determining the objectives of an assignment, anticipate change, and direct or redirect efforts accordingly. You must be able to employ the application of UXD principles, theories, and concepts and may contribute to the development of new theories and methods.

Required Skills

  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Ability to influence others to achieve results
  • Ability to execute and deliver key objectives in a timely manner
  • Ability to work in a team environment
  • Takes initiative
  • Ability to prioritize projects and/or deliverables
  • Customer focused
  • Strong background in interaction design
  • Significant experience with one or more prototyping tools (Photoshop, Axure, Balsamiq or other)
  • Significant experience in HTML5 and CSS technologies, including experience with one or more toolkits such as Dojo, Sencha EXT JS, Twitter Bootstrap, Angular JS, etc.

Desirable Skills

  • Experience designing storage or network management products
  • Solid understanding of the competition
  • Project management skills
  • Experience with data visualization techniques for big data
  • Someone who wants to have fun at work

Why Designers Can’t Just Ask “So, How Usable Is It?”

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

Did you ever go to your favorite website or app to check up on the weather for the weekend just to find out that the site has changed and you can’t figure out how to find your local forecast? And now you’re annoyed and thinking “why do they keep messing with this thing!” But after another look, you find what you’re looking for and it is actually quicker to get to the actual weather information you want, and you can also finally use that crazy radar map that you could never figure out before!

Very often these are the types of changes that result from what we refer to as baseline or benchmark usability testing. Our User Experience Design team here at EMC conducts baseline usability testing to get a qualitative baseline of how usable our products are, and to identify areas that need improvement. We may think we have a good design, but we have to test it with you – our users – because as Yogi Berra once said: “in theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

So how do we go about doing a baseline test? Think about that weather website again. How would you figure out if it is giving folks what they need? You could just ask – “hey, how is that website working for you?” But you’ll probably get a pretty broad and non-specific set of answers: “um, it’s OK, but I can just look out the window and get a better answer than these weather guys ever give me;” “it is usually accurate, and I like that blue background;” and “boy are those ads annoying!” Unfortunately this type of feedback is not going to give you the data you need to improve the design.

In order to get the good stuff, first you need to figure out what the main use cases for the application are – what do people need to do? For example, folks need current and future local weather; folks may need weather in other parts of the world because they are traveling; and once they see the weather, folks may want to plan outdoor activities (or indoor!) based on that information. So you start by putting together a list of the main things you want users to be able to accomplish with your application. Once you have that, you can put together a series of tasks that will test the application to make sure user can accomplish those things. For example, ask users to answer the following questions by using your application:

  • What is the current temperature?
  • Will it be raining at your house 5 hours from now?
  • What is the forecast for next weekend in Paris?
  • Is Wednesday a good day to plant grass seed in your yard?

By asking users to perform these types of specific tasks, you can get a measure of how successful the application is in providing the answers. If the application fails, you need to do some redesign. You can then test the newly redesign application again to see if you actually improved the usability; for example, did you improve the user task completion rate (the percentage of users that were able to complete the task) and the time it took users to complete a task?

picture of weather app

Aargh! I don’t care about the hail; where do I find my own weather!

And there is a lot you can learn as you watch users perform these tasks – as Yogi Berra once said: “you can observe a lot just by watching.” You may think users are having no trouble using your application. After all, they’re not constantly calling and saying “I can’t find the temperature!” But what you may not know is that they have to look up the spelling of their travel destination before entering it into your weather site because you do not offer spelling help. Quick, spell Cincinatti! By watching users as they perform specific tasks, you can see what types of workarounds they are forced to use that you may be completely unaware of – to quote Ben Franklin: “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”

So now that you know all about baseline usability testing, we want you to know that we are conducting a series of these tests on EMC products so that we can be sure we are making them more usable and efficient for you. For example, we recently conducted baseline usability testing for our ViPR SRM product evaluating the following main use case areas:

  • Understanding configuration
  • Resource consumption
  • Storage compliance
  • Device Monitoring

We had some positive results and also some areas where we need improvement. Here is a sample task completion rate table from that test:

Completion rates for 3 different tasks

Completion rates for 3 different tasks

We are currently working on changes to the next version of the product that we hope will get rid of those red and yellow squares! But of course only retesting will tell the final story. If you are interested in participating in this type of testing, we want to hear from you! Please sign up for testing here: SIGN UP TO PARTICIPATE!

 

 

Why Did User Experience Designers Go to EMC World?

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

The EMC User experience designers had several purposes in going to EMC world, the most important of which was simply to listen to what our users have to say about the  usefulness and usability of our EMC Products.

Sign at EMC World

You talk, We listen

Our more specific purposes were to:

  • ŸTo collect user data to inform the design of several products (Data Domain, Unisphere for VNX and VMAX, ViPR and ViPR SRM)
  • ŸPopulate the usability participant database
  • ŸRaise awareness among customers that Design & Usability are important to EMC
  • ŸTo give customers one “place to go” to provide usability feedback (across all divisions)

UX Designers had several activities going on, including a booth in the Solutions arcade at which we asked attendees to complete a survey about some new visual design ideas.

Attendee taking our visual design survey

Attendee taking our visual design survey

We were also running Design and Usability lab downstairs where conference attendees could test the usability of one or all of 4 different products  (Data Domain, ViPR SRM, Unisphere for VNX, VMAX Futures).  As you can see from the photos below, the Design and Usability lab was a busy place!

Photo of the entrance to the Design & Usability lab

Photo of the entrance to the Design & Usability lab

And here are some of the sessions that took place in the lab. The lab was so popular that we were supposed to close at 2 on Thursday, but we had people  in there until after 4!

Photos of the various design and usability feedback sessions that took place in the lab

Photos of the various design and usability feedback sessions that took place in the lab

We conducted 70 different design & usability feedback sessions during EMC World and we signed up several new companies to participate in our ViPR SRM Design partner program. 

We also had over 100 people sign up to be future usability test participants!

We’ll be sharing the results of our visual design survey and other results as we finish analyzing them. Many thanks to all of the EMC World attendees who participated in shaping the future of EMC Products.

 

UxD Case Study for VNXe 3200

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

Today EMC announced the VNXe 3200 array, which brings several of the advanced features from the unified VNX family to the easy to use VNXe entry level array family.  Brian, Chad, and Jason have some great blog posts describing the new multi-core cache/RAID, FAST VP, FAST Cache, unified snapshots, enhance metrics, and other features.

This release was code named KittyHawk, and the EMSD UxD team spent lots of time and effort trying to make it as usable as possible.  One new feature in particular that I worked on was LUN Groups.  Grouping LUNs together makes it easy to assign FAST tiering policies, host access, and consistent snapshot schedules.  Here’s the original design that we started with:First Design for LUN Groups

We did some usability testing with customers and internal users and found some problems:

  • “Virtual Disks” sounded like something associated with a hypervisor
  • No idea what a virtual disk group was for
  • How to create multiple LUNs of the same size?
  • Users wanted to see the LUNs that would be created

The redesign looked like this:Second Design for LUN Groups

Notice the terminology change from virtual disk to LUN, the addition of a spinner to specify how many LUNs to add, and the “LUNs To Create” table.  Usability testing of this design was better but still had some problems:

  • “Use Name as Template” was not very clear
  • Layout was crowded and did not flow very well
  • Add button looked like part of the advanced section and it was not obvious that it had to be pressed
  • SP Owner (under advanced) was no longer as important with multi-core RAID

The next redesign had more of a traditional form flow, the advanced options were removed, and the Add button was moved down and to the left and the LUN table to the right:

Third Design for LUN GroupsThis version tested much better and we used it for the final implementation:

Final Design for LUN Groups

Usability testing is very important part of out UxD process and we are always looking for more participants.  If you are interested, please sign up.  It is a great opportunity to shape the future of EMC products.

Bruce Rabe

EMSD VNX User Experience Design Team

 

 

Give us your opinion on colors for our Notifications

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

The designers and developers for the Service Assurance Suite are trying to decide on the best default color scheme for the Notifications view in the upcoming 9.3 release, and we’re asking Service Assurance Suite customers and stakeholders for help.

The default color scheme is what Service Assurance Suite users will see In the Notifications view immediately after installation. However, as in the past few releases, organizations using Service Assurance Suite will have the ability to choose their preferred color scheme using the Manage Colors action.

Various color schemes for notifications

Various color schemes for notifications

If you have five minutes, please give us your input by taking our survey. If possible, please respond by the end of the day today, Wednesday, April 30.

http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1637484/SA-Suite-Colors

 

Feel free to forward the survey link to other SA Suite users or stakeholders.

Introduction to the EMC Storage Resource Management Design Partner Program

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

Design partners provide feedback on the features and user interface design of upcoming versions of the software.  You participate in meetings (most are conference calls with a web conference) VERY early in the development cycle. During meetings, you discuss features, participate in usability tests, and provide feedback in other ways. If you are interested, you can also host a site visit.

 Why be a design partner?

  • Ÿ  Influence the next release of the product
  • Ÿ  Shape general product direction
  • Ÿ  Get a better user experience, a more enjoyable user interface
  • Ÿ  Know what is coming so that you can plan accordingly
  • Ÿ  Engage directly with Product Managers, Designers, and Engineering
  • Ÿ  Win prizes! We raffle a prize at the end of each release (An SRM 3.0 design partner won an iPAD mini!)
Usability test session

Participate in usability test sessions remotely or in person

Commitments

  • ŸCommit to spending 1-2 hours/month, usually con calls and web conferences
  • Maybe we come visit you once for a few hours
  • Must sign a non-disclosure agreement
  • Commitment is for 1 release, e.g. the next release of SRM Suite
  • Target: end users of the product. You can have more than one person from the same company participate.
  • There is NO commitment to installing any software – you simply join Web conferences and we give you control of OUR builds for you to provide us feedback.

Process

  • Initial meeting of 1 hour (usually a con call and web conference)
    • Introduction to the project
    • Understanding current practices and workflow for specific tasks
  • Follow-on meetings 30 minutes to 1 hour, once a month
  • If you are currently a ProSphere, Control Center, or SRM Suite customer and you are interested in becoming an SRM design partner, please contact Mary Beth Raven at EMCUsabilityTesting@Emc.com

Help us optimize the EMC Store

UXD team

UXD team

This blog brings together user experience managers and practitioners from all of the divisions to let you know what’s going on with software and web design, and to gather your feedback. I’m Mary Beth Raven, and I’ll be one of the primary bloggers. I’m the director of user experience design (UXD) for the Advanced Software Division. Other bloggers on the team include, but are not limited to, the following people: Josh Hill of EMC.COM, Jorge Borges of RSA, Bruce Rabe and Elaine McCann in Enterprise and Midrange Storage

If you are coming to EMC world, you can help us optimize the EMC Store to support your needs. Come to the Design & Usability Lab in Sands 201 to provide your opinion on the latest Store designs, and the types of products, bundles, and solutions you’d find most useful to include in the Store. (30 mins.)

  • Target Users: IT Administrators, Storage Architects, Engineers, IT Directors, Procurement Managers, or any IT professional who is responsible for researching new products, recommending purchase decisions, or purchasing products.

You can schedule a session in advance — send an email to EMCUsabilityTesting@Emc.com with  the name of the session (“Store”) and the time you’d like to schedule it. The Design & Usability Lab is open 9-5 Monday through Wednesday and 9-noon on Thursday.