At one time or another, many of you reading this blog have probably been asked to participate in a survey, beta, RC, or some other type of customer feedback vehicle with SolarWinds. In this blog, I want to show you how we use that feedback, and what a real difference it makes in the product. A while back, I posted some mockups of some What we're working on... the live edition: NCM Improved Policy Reports. A few of you commented, but in all reality, it's really hard to know if something is going to work for you, until you actually work with it. That's why we do user testing. Mock ups can reveal glaring issues, but it's the user testing that really gives us real insight into what's working and what's not. 

Screenshot #1 - Main Compliance Page

In NCM 6.0 - the integration module (the tab on NPM) only allows you to view reports. However, functionality we're working on now will allow users to manage reports (rules, policies, the reports themselves) directly from the module. We originally put the "manage" button in the top right of the screen (shown). However, we had a few users miss it in that location, so we just decided to put it both places - see the red boxes below. While this is a simple change - we expect it to save a lot of users a lot of frustration in the future. 

 

Screenshot #2 - Creating Rules

Next - the create a rule page. This one had a *lot* of feedback. Here's what we started with: 

The goal here is to make it easy for users to add criteria for rules and to specify if the criteria should apply to the entire config or to each config block, as specified in the "config block start" and "config block end" fields. Let me just summarize by saying: the above layout did not work out at all. Even though it was completely clear to us what went where on the page, when we asked users to create a rule, with no guidance, the interface left a lot to be desired. One of the main problems was that to users, the flow seemed to be out of logical sequence. 

So, we put our heads together, and worked through the flow a bit more. Here's where we are now. 

 

What happened here? It's really different isn't it? Let me walk you through what we did - and why. I'll be brief. 

1. We named the steps - this adds some context around what you are doing in each section of the page. 

2. We added shading to delineate the functionality that is different between "regular" and "advanced" mode.

3. We moved the rule criteria creation area *above* the section where you'll specify where to apply those criteria. This flow makes a lot more sense. 

4. We added some more descriptive text. You'll notice that we concentrated this around the area where you define the config block start and end, as that's where users were having the most trouble. We're still working out some of the final text as you can tell from the filler text in the mockup. 

So there you go - it's gotten a lot better! Product development for every Orion product works this way - and thanks everyone. From this community, to beta forums, to user testing, and lots of other customer interaction points in between - you all are helping us improve the products every day.