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