When last we talked, we visited about why UX testing at SolarWinds is such a vital component to the way we do business. In short, we believe if users are happy and successful with our products, then we as a company will also be happy and successful. Today, I wanted to share two concrete examples of how our products changed after user feedback and UX testing.
Server & Application Monitor – Making Templates Easier to Edit
SAM, application monitor makes application monitoring set up easy by providing templates. These templates organize all the discrete components that you would want or need to monitor to ensure your applications are performing optimally. Most templates have lots of individual counters they monitor, reflecting the complexity of the application and the depth or monitoring that SAM, server performance monitoring tool provides. As SAM added more templates and increased the depth of monitoring, these templates have gotten longer, making editing the templates quite a laborious task. Every time a user retrieved settings or made a change, the data would have to be transmitted back to the server—similar to refreshing the webpage every time you fill out a field in a very long online form. User complaints were a regular occurrence. So, SolarWinds listened to our users, and we delivered a new multi-edit option which came out with the 5.2 release. This new feature in SAM, server monitoring is super responsive and allows for users to make simple edits quickly and efficiently.
Old Way to Edit Templates in Server & Application Monitor
The template lists all the counters that are revealed by the application and point to application performance and health. To modify the template, the user needs to open each one, determine if that is what he/she wants to change, modify the settings, then save the changes. Each current setting and change is transmitted back to the server, making for a tedious process.
Here is a template, expanded so you can see the counter settings. Often, the change a user wants to make in one setting will be the same change he/she will want to make in another component monitor, so there’s going to be a lot of repeated effort.
After talking with users, we found that quite often, they were changing the same data in multiple places in the template. This was something we could easily solve with multi-edit functionality. The resulting enhancement is below.
Multi-edit functionality allows you to make the same change throughout the template with one step.
This simple change has already saved our users countless time and frustration! It’s easy to understand, and simple to use. It’s a win/win for everyone.
Log and Event Manager Gets a Wizard
Next, we’ll look at Log and Event Manager (LEM). Before UX texting and enhancements, users manually deployed the LEM appliance. They did this with only the aid of a pdf. This created a number of problems – first and foremost being that users couldn’t figure out where to go, and the process didn’t make sense. The pdf was unruly, and people started off confused and overwhelmed. LEM can require additional software components to be installed, and users would have to install each one separately. Again, they had to rely on the pdf to tell them all about the process. They got lost, there were too many steps, some of which were multi-steps within steps in two different places.
Yah, no kidding.
And to top it all off, users manually configured the LEM appliance. You get all this way, and then you had to go to a virtual console and do some more. Users found this disorienting. In general, it wasn’t a great way to start off with LEM.
So, we looked into streamlining the process. The result is a nice, user-friendly wizard. Here’s how it works:
- Users run the wizard, which guides them on how to install the appliance
Solution: LEM shows them exactly where to go and what to do
- The wizard prompts them to install any additional software, and we added a web console
Solution: users don’t have to figure out what software to install
Solution: the web console often eliminates the requirement for some additional software components
3. Users don’t have to configure the LEM appliance, but if they do make changes, they can use the appliance configuration wizard
Solution: the appliance has preset defaults that get things up and running without extra steps
Solution: the in-appliance wizard helps customers perform common tasks when deploying to production
Some screenshots of the new process follow. Much better than a pdf!
What a difference this has made! Users find LEM infinitely easier to install, they don’t have concerns about choosing the right options, and the whole experience is smooth sailing.
These are two recent examples, and we have so many more. In the next post in this series, I’ll be talking to some of our customers who have participated in UX testing to get their input on being involved in the process.
In the comments, I’d love to hear if you have experienced either of these changes first hand, and if you have any feedback on them.