Case Study

NetApp FlashRay

  • Virtual Storage
  • Enterprise
  • Interdisciplinary Team

Creating UX to match revolutionary technology.

Challenge

NetApp was in the process of building a brand new flash storage solution called FlashRay. The team knew it represented a truly revolutionary leap in the enterprise storage space, and wanted to craft an administrator experience that would be modern, simple to use, and emphasize the game-changing performance of their new solution.

The complexity of this project demanded a comprehensive user-centered design approach to crafting the solution from the ground up.

Approach

Define the Guiding Principles

We kicked off the project by gathering stakeholders and working with them to define the product's guiding principles. This exercise served to understand team members' perspectives and drove consensus on high level design goals.

User Research, Personas, and User Stories

We then conducted interviews with FlashRay's target users: enterprise storage administrators. FlashRay was a new system that had not yet been launched, so we focused on understanding where these users' needs were not being met, especially with respect to evaluating and implementing new storage systems.

While our team had the benefit of working with personas that we had helped NetApp develop in previous projects, we still needed to conduct user research to make sure these personas were still accurate and relevant. Based on this research, we updated the persona definitions that we would use to guide our design decisions.

This combination of user research and persona development resulted in a list of prioritized use cases, presented in the form of user stories. These served as the basis for our designs as well as the usability testing we performed throughout the design process.

Conceptual design

As we transitioned from research to design, our process involved understanding the basic functionality of FlashRay and what it was trying to accomplish. We spent a lot of time whiteboarding our understanding of the system with both the NetApp and EchoUser teams, and came to establish three major components to the FlashRay system: an Installer, a Dashboard, a Manager, and a Framework to hold it all together. <images of whiteboards, brainstorming, sketches>

Wireframing, iterative design, and usability testing

With the conceptual designs for the major FlashRay components fleshed out, we started to generate wireframes. We kicked off a process of regularly generating design drafts, reviewing them with the NetApp product team, and updating the designs based on feedback. With each iteration, we increased both the scope and depth of the designs. We also built interactive prototypes and conducted two rounds of usability tests to solicit user feedback.

Creating the visual design

An overarching component of our design effort was to create a look and feel that reflected a specific product personality. NetApp knew they had a groundbreaking product and it was paramount that users would get that impression. In conjunction with the conceptual and wireframe design activities, we held an internal branding workshop to identify the product traits and personality that the NetApp team wanted from the FlashRay project, and subsequently created moodboards to reflect their vision and serve as a feedback mechanism. After defining an overall visual design direction, we crafted a style guide and library of assets to bring it to life.

flashray

Outcome

We ultimately delivered end-to-end specifications for the FlashRay administrator user experience, including an information architecture document, annotated wireframes detailing key elements and interactions, and a comprehensive visual style guide and asset library.


Services Used