Designed an intuitive wizard experience for backup admins and efficient way for them to manage protection plans
One UX Designer, three engineers, two PMs, one architect,
Lead interaction designer responsible for requirement gathering, developing wireframes and mockups, flowcharts, leading review meetings with stakeholders.
Wireframing, prototyping, hosting meetings, iterating based on feedback, collaboration
Data protection is essential for businesses because It ensures that one of their most critical assets- their data – is protected and recoverable. In the event of a ransomware attack or malware, having data protected and backed up ensures that the business can be operational resilient. A holistic data protection strategy is critical and two personas responsible for creating and implementing backup jobs are the Backup Admin and the Workload Admin.
This case study focuses on the Backup Admin perspective.
Backup admins need to create a protection plan for the Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL) workload and be able to specify certain unique parameters while creating Protection Plans (PP) for different backup types.
An intuitive wizard that walks the Backup Admin through the steps in order to create a protection plan. In the wizard they are able to specify the backup/workload type, storage, backup schedule, delegate permissions. After the PP is created they can manage it from its details page.
I joined this project with no prior technical knowledge on this product and that was challenging. I was eager to learn, contribute and collaborate. My goal coming onto this project was to:
- Get a good understanding of the technical requirements
- Develop strong relationships and partnerships with the PMs, engineering team, and architect
- Design workflows that met the user requirements and business needs
We discussed the feature with three PMs, architect, and engineering team to understand the majority use cases and the technical aspects.
I was tasked with adding MS SQL as a new supported workload/asset type to create a PP for and improving the Protection Plan experience, I had to evaluate the impact of these new workflows. As a result, I also collaborated extensively with my UX teammates since there was dependency across workflows. An example of this was the RBAC user experience, and for that, I collaborated closely with two of my UX teammates to ensure that the interactions and user experience were consistent across our workflows.
Key uses for the Backup Admin are:
Three key flows for this user are the create protection plan flow, view overrides, and the edit protection plan flow. These flows are essential in ensuring that a protection plan exists and that data is being backed up. In order to backup data, a protection plan needs to be created.
Creating a swimlane diagram was very helpful in validating the flow with my stakeholders as well as helpful in communicating the process with them.
This swimlane depicts the relationship between the two personas and where the hand-off happens. This swimlane focuses on four key use cases.
After the flow was validated by the three PMs, architect, and engineering, I was able to confidently move to create wireframes. I utilized Balsamiq to create the screens for all of the use cases.
When I presented my wireframes I created a key of post-it notes indicating what each meant. This helped inform the stakeholders and everyone who viewed my wireframes what the new features are, where to refer to, values inside a dropdown, what screens would be converted into hi-fi key screens, and more.
View Overrides on PP
When Workload Admin assigns a PP to an asset the flow is technically called subscription. The Workload Admin subscribes a PP to an asset and they have the option to override certain parameters of the PP if the Backup Admin granted them the position. If the Workload Admin does make changes to the PP, the Backup Admin needs to see what they overrode and they can do so by doing this flow.
After the wireframes were validated by my various counterparts, I worked on the mockup. Through discussion with my stakeholders, due to the lack of resources, we agreed upon creating hi-fi key screens of the flow. Key screens were defined as any new, unique interaction that was introduced into the workflow. There were a total of 12 key screens that were designed and here are some…
A key contributor to the success of this project, was due to collaboration across the three PMs, engineering as well as the architect. Since I was new to this project and did not have prior technical knowledge on this product – I was eager to learn, contribute and collaborate as much as I can.
Every week I led meetings with the 3 PMs, engineering leads, the architect, and UX teammates where I presented my design progress and iterations. I recorded every call, for my note taking, and sent a recap email after every meeting.
Before the close of every call, I did a recap which went over:
- What I presented
- A summary of the changes that we collectively agreed upon
- Next steps
This recap strategy proved to be beneficial in making sure that we were all aligned going forward. Based on the feedback that I received, I brainstormed and incorporated their feedback- I iterated the user experience based on the requirements.
This was a pivotal project in my career, because it enhanced my leadership skills. This project was very technical and it was crucial that I understood the nuances in order to design the user experience. What benefited me was the relationships that I forged and the questions that I asked along the way, as well as the patience to keep iterating and striving for simpler interactions.
One of the incredible people that I worked with was Thomas Krinke who is an esteemed architect. I am grateful for his support and this is what he said about our experience collaborating together…
” I worked with Melanie in my role as the Product Architect overseeing systems management when Melanie was a User Experience Designer. Melanie had the daunting task of designing user interactions for our new Microsoft SQL Server data protection and recovery self service capability. This is a critical function of NetBackup and the feature is meant to enable interactions with multiple personas in an enterprise data center. The volume of feedback from users, partners and internal stakeholders on this project was enormous. Melanie was able to aggregate this feedback into actionable design tasks and guide conversations effectively and patiently with many competing data points from a wide variety of stakeholders. Melanie had very little experience with the product coming into the project and her quick up-take of key concepts and keen understanding of human interactions has been truly impressive. Melanie displayed perseverance, patience, excellent communication skills – especially with important customers – and finished a project that we are all very excited about. It has been a pleasure to work with Melanie and I offer my highest recommendation.”
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