NetApp: System Performance Modeler


Keeping a tight iterative feedback loop design to ensure the tool’s consistency with user behavior.


NetApp’s System Performance Modeler (SPM) tool is an essential tool for sales engineers and partners to determine which hardware and software solutions meet customers’ performance needs.

Our team was tasked with identifying the current tool’s shortcomings and redesigning to ensure users could easily find the answers they needed. As the tool was critical to the NetApp sales and partner experience, it was vital for users to trust its accuracy and effectiveness.


In the course of three months, we applied a tightly integrated research and design process to revamp the SPM tool in an overhaul from the ground up.


We started by interviewing current SPM users to understand their pain-points as well as the overall domain. Our findings revealed that the tool needed to be restructured altogether to accommodate key user workflows for “sizing” a solution, or determining appropriate hardware and software specifications to meet customer performance needs.

Conceptual Framework

Our next step was to devise a new conceptual model that would better match users’ mental model of the sizing process. Whereas users were previously directed to two different flows to perform fairly similar tasks, the new model streamlined the flows into a single platform to be more consistent with user behavior.

After finalizing our model, we translated it into a new UI framework. We iteratively designed and tested the framework and ultimately delivered a detailed set of wireframes along with visual reference screens to communicate how a user would interact with it.

Overall, our redesign aligned the tool more closely with user behavior by clarifying the relationship between user input and output, facilitating frequent tweaks, and unifying needlessly fragmented functions in a single sizing workflow.


After completing several rounds of user testing and revision, we put our solution in front of users one last time to determine how the new experience compared to that of the current tool. Multiple rounds of usability tests on the System Usability Scale (SUS) revealed that the experience had been drastically improved. At the conclusion of the project, we delivered high fidelity annotated mockups to a development team to use towards building the new SMP tool.


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